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Is Ohio On The Way To Having Most Ridiculous Cannabis Laws In The US?

The state’s governor is worried about immature children like himself having to smell weed while they wait in line to see the Nutcracker

With a hurt and vulnerable market in Mass and a Commonwealth Cannabis Control Commission that is frequently in headlines for human resources wrangles rather than for regulating, sometimes it can be a relief and distraction to look at other states and point out their intensely worse industry problems.

New York is a frequent and obvious foil, with its two-thousand bodegas slinging THOMG flower shipped in from Cali over the counter to every two actually licensed shops that are finally up and running. But this week, more than any other state where shameless prohibitionist politicians are forcing their nonsense preconceptions about cannabis onto the public via some perverted version of democracy, Ohio stands out like a buckeye tree in a field of sativas.

Every major news outlet in the US seemed to trumpet a headline about Ohio legalization. On Nov. 7, more than 56% of voters there supported a ballot initiative that “legalizes and regulates the cultivation, manufacturing, testing and the sale of marijuana to Ohioans 21 and up.” It also “legalizes home grow for Ohioans 21 and up with a limit of six plants per person and 12 plants per residence, and imposes a 10% tax at the point of sale for each transaction.” But that was just the start of a new struggle.

As happens in every state where the majority of the electorate comes out to support cannabis, including Massachusetts back in 2016, custard-eating trolls from 1952 emerge from bureaucratic dungeons to openly oppose documented truths and run rhetorical interference. In Ohio, Senate Republicans are having a field day proposing crazy changes—among them, per the Dayton Daily News, “The Senate bill would reduce home grow limits from 12 plants per household to six; raise the cannabis tax rate from 10% to 15% and change where those funds would go; and reduce the maximum THC content in cannabis extract products; while also adding an avenue for individuals to get cannabis charges expunged and allowing medical dispensaries to begin recreational sales within three months of the bill’s passage.”

Some of that’s ok, even good. But the pros, like a 15% tax rate which comparatively isn’t so bad (Mass comes to between 17% and 20% depending on an optional local tax), are just sugar to help some unnecessary medicine go down. There are also proposed limits on sharing weed, while one proposal would limit marijuana use to private residences. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, whose brain is made of mayonnaise, said, “Without the passage of this bill, our children may be exposed to marijuana smoke in any public place. For example, while waiting in line to see the nutcracker at Playhouse Square in Cleveland next week.” Really, he said that.

It gets much worse: “The bill would also overhaul how tax revenues from recreational marijuana sales are used.” While the “current law put in place by the passage of Ohio Issue 2 in the November general election put 36% of funds toward the newly implemented Cannabis Social Equity and Jobs Program,” which “would help people from communities hurt by marijuana laws get into the legal industry,” House Bill 86 “would eliminate that program and put over half of all tax revenue toward jail construction and law enforcement.”

The cartoonish villain tactics don’t end there. The Ohio GOP is utterly determined to hobble the legal market before it is built, even if it means pushing absurd measures like limiting the potency of concentrates to 50% THC, a move that’s bound to keep illicit products pumping through the region if it passes.

Thankfully, the saints who fought this battle through their issue’s success at the ballot box still have some fight left in them, as do leaders in the Ohio House of Representatives, who said they won’t be compromising with their neanderthal Senate counterparts in haste, but will instead wait until after a planned break. (Check out Kyle Jaeger’s excellent Marijuana Moment’s coverage here for the blow-by-blow political details.)

“People didn’t vote for over 70% of our tax revenue to go to law enforcement and four different specialty funds,” one Athens County marijuana advocate told the Senate committee. “People didn’t vote for higher taxes that are going to weigh down our cultivators and send people back to Michigan. People didn’t vote for half of the plant allowance that you guys are now offering.”