Drawn image of sandwich bag of 2.5 oz of marijuana.
Answers to questions you might have about what happens next now that Issue 2 has passed. Credit: John G/Shiner Comics / Signal Cleveland

Now that Issue 2 has passed, many Ohioans want to know the answer to this question: When will people be able to buy recreational marijuana in the state?

The Ohio Department of Commerce, which regulates medical marijuana and will also regulate recreational cannabis, sent an email to Signal Cleveland Wednesday addressing some topics raised by Issue 2’s passage. On Tuesday, Ohio voters approved the recreational use of marijuana by those 21 and older by a vote of 56.97% to 43.03%. The ballot measure calls for the retail sale of marijuana by state-licensed dispensaries and creates the Division of Cannabis Control within Commerce. 

“The new division inside Commerce has nine months to complete the rulemaking and licensing processes for non-medical cannabis.”

Email from the Ohio Department of Commerce

Below is a Q&A based on the topics covered in the email from Commerce.

Q: How soon will people be able to buy recreational marijuana in Ohio?

A: The short answer is no time soon. Commerce emphasizes that “there are currently no entities licensed to sell non-medical cannabis in the state of Ohio.” 

“The new division inside Commerce has nine months to complete the rulemaking and licensing processes for non-medical cannabis,” the email stated. “Sales of non-medical cannabis may not begin until licenses are issued and facilities are certified.

“The MMCP [Medical Marijuana Control Program] will continue to be administered by the Division of Cannabis Control, and MMCP patients and caregivers are encouraged to keep their patient or caregiver card active,” the email stated.

Q: Can the state legislature make changes to Issue 2?

A: Yes, the Ohio General Assembly can amend Issue 2, which becomes effective 30 days after passage. The state legislature can amend the statute at any time. Such changes could impact when people would be able to buy recreational marijuana as well as the provisions of the law. 

“Any amendments to the statute could impact the timeline for the rulemaking and licensing process,” the email from Commerce stated.

The email said Commerce officials will keep an eye on whether the state legislature will make any changes.

“Commerce built the patient-focused Medical Marijuana Control Program with safety at its core,” the email stated. “The agency awaits direction from the General Assembly on any changes they plan to make to the statute. The Department will take into consideration the same medical safety standards currently in place in the rulemaking process for non-medical consumers.”

Q: Can people buy marijuana in other states and bring it to Ohio now that Issue 2 has passed?

“Individuals are not allowed to purchase marijuana in other states and bring it into Ohio,” the email stated. “Federal law prohibits traveling across state lines with marijuana.”

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Economics Reporter (she/her)
Olivera, an award-winning journalist, covered labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer. She broke the story in 2013 of a food drive held for Walmart workers who made too little to afford Thanksgiving dinner. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Olivera believes the sweet spot of high-impact journalism is combining strong storytelling with data analysis.