COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Recreational marijuana will soon officially be legal in the state. The law goes into effect on Dec. 7, but Governor Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) said he has already had conversations with Ohio Statehouse leadership about some of the changes he thinks need to be made to what voters passed.
“I’ve asked the legislature in the next to take appropriate action so that we can carry out our duty to the people of the state of Ohio while fully respecting the will of the people that we have legal marijuana in the state of Ohio,” DeWine said.
Representative Casey Weinstein said DeWine’s actions are a slap in the face to voters.
“That said, if there is this determination to make some tweaks to the law, I hope it’s done with the interested parties and the different coalitions that came together to support this bill at the table,” Weinstein said.
DeWine said has three big picture goals he wants to look at when tweaking the law, the first is protecting children.
“One goal will be to make sure that they are protected from advertising in regard to marijuana,” DeWine said. “Second thing we want to do is everything within our power to reduce the number of inadvertent consumption of gummy bears cookies and other products that have marijuana in them.”
DeWine said he also wants to make sure that the number of people driving under the influence does not increase and protect adults who did not vote in favor of the law.
“Every adult who does not want to inhale, who does not want to be smelling marijuana and they make a choice not to use marijuana,” DeWine said. “We are going to live up to our responsibility of all the people of the state of Ohio, whether they voted for it or voted against, we do it in a respectful way and we do it frankly, the Ohio way.”
Weinstein said there are already guardrails in place, like what you see with alcohol and tobacco laws, so as not to bother other people.
“There will be significant regulation, there will be private property right protections, there will be home rule within communities who can set some of their own boundaries,” Weinstein said.
At the statehouse, Republican leaders in the House and Senate already have ideas for changes they want to make to the law.
In a statement, Speaker of the Ohio House Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) said, “With the passage of Issue 2, now is the time for the legislature to lead on how best to allocate tax revenues while responsibly regulating the industry. Investing in county jail construction and funding law enforcement training across Ohio should be our top priority to make our communities safer.”
A spokesperson for Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said “there will be significant discussions,” about THC levels and tax revenues.
Weinstein said he is not opposed to making the law better, as long as it’s done transparently.
“There could be some minor changes that we make to make the law better, but again, only if they’re at the table and not behind closed doors,” Weinstein said. “THC limits is something I’ve heard from folks we could take a look at, there may be elements of the homegrown program we could take a look at, I’ve heard some questions about the levels of taxation.”
DeWine said he is urging Stephens and Huffman to implement the will of the voters in a responsible way.
“I’ve already talked to them; I’ve talked to them on the phone. I’m not going to say what I said to them, nor am I going to say what they said to me,” DeWine said.
DeWine said he wants changes to the law to be made by Dec. 7 so there’s no confusion about how things will roll out.
“So that we’re not in a situation of taking something away from people, we’re not in a situation of telling them, ‘Oh, for X number of days it’s going to be one thing and then the X number of days after that it’s going to be something else,’” DeWine said.
But Weinstein said he thinks that the deadline is too soon.
“I don’t think that can get done in a way that is fair to the different stakeholder groups that need to be at the table by then,” Weinstein said. “We’re always trying to listen to different communities to make our laws better. This is no exception. What I really worry about is what happens often at the Statehouse, is we leave out public input into public policy.”
DeWine said he is meeting with Stephens and Huffman on Monday morning to talk about details of legislation; he said he will be able to talk more about it after the meeting.
The statehouse already seen a bill introduced by Representative Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) to use a portion of the tax revenue from adult-use marijuana for law enforcement training.