Issue 2 would legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio for people age 21 and older. Drawn image showing six marijuana plants, an Ohio identification card and a beg of marijuana.
Issue 2 would legalize recreational marijuana for Ohio adults age 21 and older. Credit: John G / Shiner Comics

Ohio voters will decide in November whether recreational marijuana should be legal. 

Issue 2, if it passes, would legalize recreational marijuana use for those 21 years old or older. 

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol got the measure on the ballot after collecting enough Ohio voters’ signatures.

Tom Haren, spokesperson for the coalition and a partner at the Cleveland law firm Frantz Ward who specializes in cannabis law, said the summary of Issue 2 is right in the coalition’s name. 

“We want to regulate marijuana like alcohol,” Haren said. “Which means you gotta be 21 to buy it, gotta be 21 to use it. We’re going to regulate the supply chain, and we’re going to generate new tax revenue.” 

Issue 2 proponents say that legalizing cannabis is also about social equity. 

Recreational marijuana sales would be taxed at 10%. Some of the tax revenue would go toward creating a cannabis social equity and jobs program.

The program would help those most affected by the enforcement of marijuana-related laws by giving them preference when issuing licenses to sell and grow marijuana.  

Tax revenue for the social equity and jobs program would also go toward studying and funding criminal justice reform. 

Here’s what legalizing recreational marijuana in Ohio would look like. 

Who could use marijuana? 

Legalizing recreational marijuana through Issue 2 would allow anyone over the age of 21 to carry and use the product, with some exceptions. 

Currently, anyone 18 and older who has a medical use card can buy cannabis products. That will stay the same but 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds would not be able to use marijuana recreationally.

How much could I have on me? 

People would be allowed to have 2.5 ounces of marijuana, or about a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag full. 

The law would also limit a person to having 15 grams of extract. Extracts are cannabis concentrates and can include liquids, oils, wax and resin. Extracts are used in several ways, including in edibles, vaping and lotions. 

People could also grow six plants at home per adult but no more than 12 plants total in a household with two or more adults over 21. 

Could I use marijuana wherever I want? 

People would not be allowed to use marijuana in public areas such as parks.  

A private property owner – whether a business owner, landlord or homeowner – would decide whether or not someone could use weed on their property. 

No, you could not drive high. 

Marijuana users would not be allowed to drive or operate a streetcar (yes, some cities do have streetcars), a trackless trolley, a bicycle, watercraft or aircraft while high. You also can’t get high in your parked car or as a passenger in someone’s car.

How would legal recreational use be different from medical marijuana use?

Medical marijuana has been legal in Ohio since 2016. 

People who have one of more than 20 conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic and severe pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, can get a recommendation from a physician and a medical card to buy cannabis.

Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program allows people to use oils, tinctures, plant material, edibles and patches. You can vape, but you can’t smoke it. In other words, currently, you can have and use weed products if you have a medical card, you just can’t light them on fire. 

If Ohioans pass Issue 2, adults would be allowed to smoke weed. 

Marijuana will only be sold at dispensaries.

Marijuana will continue to be sold only at dispensaries, but people wouldn’t need a card to buy it. They’d have to show a state identification card or driver’s license, as they do when buying alcohol. 

It’s possible that voters could pass Issue 2 but lawmakers could still change or repeal it. 

Issue 2 is an initiated statute.

With an initiated statute, voters can change the Ohio Revised Code, the laws of the state. A campaign gathers signatures to put the proposal before the state legislature. The legislature has four months to pass the proposal, make changes to the proposal, or not pass it. 

In this case, the legislature did nothing with the Issue 2 proposal. The coalition decided to put the issue before voters and gathered enough signatures to make the November ballot.

If an initiated statute is passed, it becomes law 30 days after the election. 

Legislators can revise the language of an initiated statute. Any changes made to Issue 2 would have to go through both the state House of Representatives and the Senate. 

Senate President Matt Huffman said if the issue passes, parts of it will be back before the Legislature to look at.

“I definitely think that if it passes there’s problems in it that need to get addressed,” he said. “I will advocate for reviewing it, and repealing things or changing things that are in it.”

An initiated statute is different from a constitutional amendment, such as Issue 1, which would create a right to an abortion in Ohio.

Once Ohio voters change the constitution, they would have to follow the same process to repeal a provision or amend it.

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Criminal Justice Reporter (she/her)
Stephanie, who covered criminal justice and breaking news at the Chicago Tribune, is a bilingual journalist with a passion for storytelling that is inclusive and reflects the diversity of the communities she covers. She has been a reporter and copy editor for local newspapers in South Dakota, Kansas and Arizona. Stephanie is also a Maynard 200 alumni, a Maynard Institute for Journalism Education training program for journalists of color that focuses on making newsrooms more equitable, diverse and anti-racist.