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Top Ohio GOP Lawmakers Struggle To Reach Consensus On Bill To Amend Marijuana Legalization Law



Top Ohio Republican lawmakers say plans are still in the works to amend the state’s marijuana legalization law, with the Senate president setting a June target as regulators work to develop rules and launch an adult-use market.

It remains unclear what that future cannabis legislation will look like, but leadership has discussed addressing issues such as tax revenue distribution, scaling back home cultivation rules and restricting public smoking.

“I am—I would not say optimistic—but I am reasonably hopeful, if you need words, that we can get something done by June,” Senate President Matt Huffman (R), whose chamber has already passed legislation to amend the voter-approved legalization policy, told WCMH-TV.

“With greater access to marijuana, there will be more visits to poison control centers,” he said, adding that it’s “really important” that lawmakers allocate tax dollars to those centers as part of any amendment package.

The senator additionally said he thinks “what’s most pressing is people smoking marijuana when they’re walking down the street.”

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has previously pressed the legislature to enact changes to expedite recreational marijuana sales, despite his personal opposition to the ballot initiative that voters passed in November. But he’s indicated that his more immediate concern is regulating the sale of intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids such as delta-8 THC.

“This is time for the legislature to move,” the governor, who also raised the issue during his State of the State address earlier this month, said. “We can’t do it ourselves.”

He also said he’s “not going to get into that” when asked about disagreements within Republican leadership with respect to revising the state’s marijuana law.

House Speaker Jason Stephens (R), who has been reluctant to join the Senate’s push to change the cannabis law that voters approved, said the prospect of passing such legislation “depends on what it looks like.”

“A lot of members have certain things that they think are important, others don’t think they are as important,” he said. “It’s about building a consensus.”

The speaker added that while he believes it’s critical for the legislature to determine how to most effectively distribute marijuana tax revenue, they need to first get a clearer sense of how much the state stands to generate when the legal market opens.

“There’s estimates,” he said. “But we’ve seen estimates before whether it’s gambling or other revenue services that were going to be X and turned out they would be Y.”

“What is the exact amount of taxes? What does that add up to? How does that compare? How much flexibility do local communities have,” Stephens said. “As we go into the future there will continually be changes and tweaks to recreational marijuana in Ohio.”

Huffman, the Senate president, said that “most reasonable people, including people in the industry, believe that it would be better to have it clarified in law.”

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,400 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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The Senate did pass an amendment package just prior to legalization taking effect in December, but the House has not taken it up, nor has it moved to advance a different proposal that originate in the House.

While regulators have until September to start issuing cannabis business licenses, a GOP lawmaker who chairs a rulemaking committee said this month that sales could launch as soon as June under a regulatory plan that his panel set to approve.

Regulators already implemented a change last month that allows medical marijuana patients and caregivers to obtain or renew their registrations for only one penny.

The fee elimination is part of an initial package of rules that DCC released in February to implement adult-use legalization.

Following voter approval of legalization at the ballot, the Department of Commerce was quick to publish an FAQ guide for residents to learn about the new law and timeline for implementation.

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