Ohio Anti-Pot Crusaders Thumb Their Noses at Democracy

A certain breed of insurgent lawmaker has risen to prominence in America during the last few years. These politicians share an autocratic mindset and, if they don’t like a certain decision by the voters, they try to undermine that decision.

It’s called authoritarianism. We saw this phenomenon take place on January 6 during the riots on Capitol Hill. And we’re witnessing this contempt for democracy unfold right now in Ohio, in regard to marijuana.

A proposition aimed at gutting Ohio’s voter-endorsed marijuana legalization law, scheduled to take effect imminently, has received preliminary approval from an Ohio Senate committee.

The legislation, now progressing through the GOP-dominated chamber, seeks to remove the option for adults to cultivate marijuana at home, criminalize the possession and use of marijuana acquired outside licensed retailers, diminish possession limits, augment the sales tax on cannabis, and redirect funding away from social equity programs towards law enforcement. Additionally, it encompasses alterations related to THC limits, public consumption, and modifications to hemp-related regulations.

Ohio is deep red “Trump country,” and yet on Tuesday, November 7, the state’s voters overwhelmingly approved, 57% to 43%, a referendum on the ballot that legalizes adult-use (i.e. recreational) marijuana. Medical marijuana had already been legal in the Buckeye State since 2016.

The approved pot measure in Ohio, which takes effect December 7, legalizes the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and the cultivation of up to six plants, or 12 plants if two or more adults live in the same household. Within nine months of the effective date, state regulators must implement rules to start approving licensed retailers.

The vote makes Ohio the 24th state in the U.S. to legalize adult-use marijuana and furthers a trend of conservative states establishing legal markets. With Ohio, 53% of the U.S. population now live in a jurisdiction where anyone at least 21 years old can legally possess weed. As of today, 38 states allow the use of medical cannabis.

WATCH THIS VIDEO: “Sin Stocks” and The Virtues of Agnostic Investing

The Ohio GOP doesn’t care what the voters say. And their efforts to negate the vote is causing the nationwide marijuana industry to howl in outrage.

During a hearing on Monday, the Ohio Senate General Government Committee voted 4-1 to integrate the cannabis legislation into an unrelated bill on alcohol regulations, which had previously passed the House. The revised legislation not only incorporates provisions outlined by Republican leaders in recent weeks following voters’ approval but extends further, proposing the criminalization of individuals cultivating cannabis at home.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R) expressed the intention to pass the legislation on the floor as early as Wednesday, before potentially forwarding it to the House for concurrence. The urgency is driven by the desire to enact changes on an emergency basis before the legalized possession and home cultivation, scheduled for Thursday.

Republicans, led by Governor Mike DeWine (R), argue that voters supported the fundamental concept of marijuana legalization without necessarily endorsing specific policies, such as tax regulations.

By repealing crucial sections of the initiated statute and introducing amended language, the bill would effectively re-criminalize the use and possession of marijuana acquired outside licensed retailers. However, since retailers couldn’t open for at least a year after the effective date, possession would remain illegal until that point, casting uncertainty on when it would become lawful under the legislation.

The legislation, in addition to abolishing home cultivation, proposes an increase in the excise tax rate on marijuana sales from 10% to 15% at the point of sale, coupled with a 15% gross receipts tax on cultivators. Deviating from the voter-approved distribution of marijuana tax revenue, the proposed legislation allocates 30% to law enforcement training, 15% to substance misuse treatment, 10% to a safe driving initiative, and the remaining to the state general fund.

The possession limit for adults would be reduced from 2.5 ounces to one ounce, and the THC limit for flower and extracts would be lowered from 35% to 25% and 90% to 50%, respectively.

These provisions they believe would devastate the hemp industry in Ohio. The U.S. Hemp Roundtable has issued a call-to-action alert, urging supporters to oppose the amendment package due to its potential prohibition of full-spectrum hemp products.

The bill, as amended, also introduces criminal penalties for public consumption, imposes restrictions on marijuana advertising, reduces the cap on cannabis dispensaries from 350 to 230, and grants localities the authority to prohibit marijuana cultivators within their borders.

Public commentary on the cannabis legislation was limited to until 2:30 pm ET on Monday, leaving a brief window for input after its unveiling. No further public testimony will be considered on Tuesday or Wednesday before a potential floor vote.

Advocates of marijuana legalization vow to put up a fight:

We’ll see how these events pan out. The bitter pot battle in Ohio is a reminder that investors need to stay apprised of legal, political and regulatory events as they pertain to marijuana.

To learn more about the fast-changing cannabis landscape, I suggest you read my new book: The Wide World of Weed and Psychedelics.

This concise, clear, easy-to-read book reveals everything you need to know about the wide world of legal weed and psychedelics.

My book is your definitive guide for making money in the psychotropic revolution. This megatrend is poised for a breakout year in 2024; the time to get aboard is now. Click here for your copy.

John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily.

Subscribe to John’s video channel: