View a previous NBC4 report on Issue 2 in the video player above.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio is deciding in two days whether to become the 24th state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.
Passage of Issue 2 on Nov. 7 would allow adult-use sale, purchase and possession of cannabis for Ohioans who are 21 and older. Adults could possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrate and grow up to six plants at home.
Those in Ohio who purchase cannabis would pay a 10% excise tax, the same rate as Michigan and Illinois, plus a 5.75% state tax, in addition to a local tax ranging from 0.25% to 2.25%. Some of the tax revenue would go toward equity and jobs programs, according to the proposed law’s text. Patients within the state’s medical marijuana program would not be subject to the tax.
Ohio’s rate could generate $182 million to $218 million during the first full year of operations, according to estimates from Ohio State University’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. By the fifth year, the state could collect $336 million to $403 million from an excise tax on marijuana.
Issue 2 would also establish the Division of Cannabis Control within the Ohio Department of Commerce to oversee the compliance of the marijuana industry by regulating, investigating and penalizing cannabis operators and facilities.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Aug. 16 that the statute to legalize recreational marijuana would join an abortion rights constitutional amendment and local elections — such as Columbus’ election for mayor and city council — on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Unlike the abortion rights amendment, Issue 2 will appear as an initiated statute — giving state lawmakers the final word. The governor does not have the authority to veto a proposal made law via the ballot, according to the Ohio Constitution, but legislators can still propose and pass modifications to the new law after the election.
Close to 59% percent of likely Ohio voters, responding to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll, said they would vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. Only 6.6% were undecided, with 34.8% against the issue.
Who supports Issue 2?
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a pro-Issue 2 group, claims the initiative will break barriers for veterans needing access to medical marijuana and generate millions of dollars that will be reinvested into local communities.
“Regulating marijuana like alcohol is the right decision for Ohio to ensure that veterans and patients have much needed access to medical marijuana, to ensure that we can keep marijuana out of the hands of kids, and to ensure that we put the black market out of business,” said Tom Haren, the coalition’s spokesperson.
Several Democratic leaders have backed Issue 2, including Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) who previously introduced legislation at the Statehouse to legalize recreational cannabis.
“I view it as a personal liberty and a privacy issue, to be able to have home grow,” Weinstein said. “And plus, for a lot of folks who can’t afford access to the market, this provides a pathway to do this.”
Who is against Issue 2?
Protect Ohio Workers and Families, the anti-Issue 2 coalition, claims the initiative could have negative effects on minors in the state, like an increase in accidental ingestions. Issue 2 would also cause Ohio to suffer 48 more fatal car crashes and 2,298 more injury crashes, according to the group’s projections.
“Why would we ever go to the ballot and knowingly, willingly, vote these new death and injuries upon ourselves, our families, our neighbors? It’s cruel and unthinkable,” said Gary Wolske, Ohio Fraternal Order of Police president. “These statistics are real and this will happen, if not exactly these numbers, then something like them.”
Many Republican leaders are opponents of Issue 2, including Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) who said “a lot more people are going to fall in the river if marijuana is legal recreational.” Gov. Mike DeWine has also expressed concern with an increased number of people driving under the influence.
“We’re dealing with a different marijuana,” DeWine said. “It’s not your grandfather’s marijuana.”
Voting by mail
Absentee ballot request forms must be delivered, either by mail or in person, to county boards of elections by 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 31. Print out an absentee ballot request form here.
Mailed absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 6 and have until Nov. 13 to arrive at the boards of election. If dropping your ballot off in person, you have until 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7.
You do not need a photo ID to vote absentee.
Voting in person
Early in-person voting continues through Nov. 5 at county boards of elections:
- Oct. 24-27: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Oct. 30: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 31: 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Nov. 1-3: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Nov. 4: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Nov. 5: 1 to 5 p.m.
Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Anyone in line by 7:30 p.m. will be able to cast their ballots. The Franklin County Board of Elections recommends confirming your polling location by checking your voter record here or by calling 614-525-3100.
Ohio requires a form of photo identification to vote in person. Valid forms of photo ID include:
- Ohio driver’s license
- State of Ohio ID card
- Interim ID form issued by the Ohio BMV
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- U.S. military ID card
- Ohio National Guard ID card
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ID card
Learn more about State Issues 1 and 2 below.