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State rep: Legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio

COLUMBUS — Recreational marijuana would be legalized in Ohio for adults 21 and older under Republican legislation coming in the Ohio House that would levy a 10 percent sales tax on the product, a lawmaker announced Tuesday.

Ohio facilities currently producing and processing medical marijuana would be grandfathered into the program, with new producers to be added to meet the expected demand, said Rep. Jamie Callender, a Republican from Lake County in northeastern Ohio. He said he’s currently looking for co-sponsors for the legislation, which has been in the works for months.

The bill “is the responsible approach for adult use,” Callender said.

A quarter of the sales tax revenue would go to police departments to purchase equipment used in detecting impaired drivers, and another quarter toward addiction and recovery programs. The remaining 50% would not be earmarked, which could help the state during a precarious economic time, Callender said.

“Having that extra funding going into the general revenue fund would give the Legislature more financial stability without having to look at tax increases,” he said.

Eighteen other states — including Illinois and Michigan — two territories and the District of Columbia have passed laws regulating marijuana for recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition, 36 states and four territories also allow for medical marijuana.

Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and implemented it in 2019. Earlier this year, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy voted to make 73 dispensary licenses available in addition to the 52 dispensaries currently operating.

In addition to the legislation being announced Tuesday, a separate ballot issue to legalize marijuana use and sales in Ohio is underway. The proposed statute from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol would make it legal for adults 21 and older to buy and possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow as up to six plants inside their homes.

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