Later today, the people of Ohio will vote on an amendment to permit the use of medicinal marijuana under certain provisions – but also non-medicinal use as well.
Patients over the age of 21 with debilitating medical conditions would be permitted to use medicinal cannabis, provided certification has been supplied by the patient’s treating physician. Patients will be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and marijuana-infused products.
The amendment will also see the establishing of the Ohio Marijuana Control Commission (“Commission”) to regulate all related activities, such as cultivation, sale and use.
However, while 1,100 retail outlets will be permitted, only ten farms will be licensed Marijuana Growth, Cultivation and Extraction (“MGCE”) facilities; leading to concerns a monopoly will be established.
If passed, the new legislation will be a money-spinner for Ohio’s government. A special flat tax of 15% would be imposed on all gross revenue of each MGCE and Marijuana Product Manufacturing (MPM) facility, plus a 5% tax on all gross revenue of each retail marijuana store. These taxes would be in addition to other standard taxes, assessments, fees and charges required to be paid by Ohio businesses in general.
Additionally, MGCE facilities would be required to pay annual license fees of USD $50,000, $25,000 for MPM facilities and $10,000 for RMSs and marijuana testing facilities.
Individuals will also be able to grow their own marijuana; up to four flowering marijuana plants and eight ounces of usable plant material. Individuals will need to register with the state and pay a registration fee of $50 for home growing, indexed to inflation.
Clauses relating to personal non-medicinal use have created doubts in some voters’ minds. While generally speaking there is strong support for medicinal cannabis, its use recreationally is frowned upon by some.
The full wording of Ohio’s Marijuana Legalization Amendment can be viewed here.
Recreational use aside, the vote is somewhat of a minefield for other reasons too. Ohio residents will also be voting on Issue 2, which prohibits any individual or entity from proposing a constitutional amendment that would lead to conditions where a monopoly can be established. This would prohibit Issue 3 regarding cannabis from taking effect; even if resolution 3 receives overwhelming support.
UPDATE: November 4. Despite overwhelming support in pre-vote polling; Issue 3 was rejected by Ohio voters – with speculation the issue of recreational use and the threat of an oligopoly in relation to cultivation in the state to be the cause.