Governor says state’s recreational marijuana law is in ‘goofy situation’

Governor says state’s recreational marijuana law is in ‘goofy situation’

Gov. Mike DeWine adjusts his glasses during an interview Dec. 21 with The Associated Press at the Ohio Governor’s Residence in Columbus. DeWine met Thursday with a group of Ohio newspaper editors and discussed topics such as recreational marijuana and health care for transgender youths. (The Associated Press)

Click HERE to watch the entire 75-minute interview with a group of Ohio newspaper editors, including representatives from the Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator.

While Ohio voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana for adults two months ago, it won’t be until the end of this year when the sale of it will be authorized, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

“That’s not what people intended,” DeWine said during a Thursday interview with a group of Ohio newspaper editors. “We have kind of a goofy situation today where it’s legal to consume marijuana. It’s legal to grow marijuana. But you can’t buy the seeds, and you can’t buy the marijuana. All this is doing is fostering a bigger black market because people think they can buy it legally and advertising is being done.”

DeWine called it “a real mess.”

DeWine, a Republican, is asking the Republican-controlled state Legislature “to take action on (recreational marijuana) and fix that. Give us the authority to start selling legal marijuana in the state of Ohio. The way that we would have to do it, to start with at least, is to do it through the medical dispensaries. We could do that and probably turn that on within about 60 days after the Legislature passes an initiative.”

The state Senate passed a bill on regulating recreational marijuana in December, but the Ohio House hasn’t acted on it. DeWine said he supports the Senate bill.

“We just need the House and the Senate to get back together, start talking about this,” he said. “Let’s get a bill that we can move forward on.”

DeWine said he is willing to assist the Legislature, but it is up to the House and Senate to get this done.

“It’s something that we have a concern about because we have to administer whatever they come up with,” he said.

Recreational marijuana was among the numerous topics DeWine addressed during a nearly 75-minute interview Thursday.


DeWine was asked about changing how the state draws General Assembly and congressional districts, saying the existing process “didn’t work” and elected officials need to be taken out of the process.

There is an effort to put a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 5 ballot to create a 15-member citizens’ commission.

Asked if he supported the proposal, DeWine said: “I’ve not really spent the time to look at it, to see whether or not I’m going to support it. But it’s clear what we have doesn’t work, just didn’t work. (It) didn’t do what people thought it was going to do. There’s always two keys to these things. One is, who has the vessel, who draws the lines? And who picks those people to do it? Then what is the criteria that you’re giving them?”

DeWine said, “These things are not as easy as people may think simply because of how people group themselves. Those make things sometimes more difficult.”


DeWine vetoed legislation Dec. 29 to ban gender-affirming care for minors and prohibit transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports. The Ohio House overrode the veto Jan. 10 and the Senate is expected to do the same next week.

“This is a very contentious issue,” he said. “There are people on both sides who care about kids. My final decision on this was not based on sports. That was not part of what my decision was. My decision was made after talking to a lot of parents, talking to medical professionals, but the most important people that I talked to were parents. I had parents who told me that their child would not be alive today, but for the fact that they were able to work through this with a doctor and make a very gut-wrenching, difficult decision.”

DeWine added: “I don’t know any case where the government comes in for a difficult medical decision where the parent, the child and the medical professionals are all aligned. And the government comes in and says, ‘No, we know best.’ I just think that’s a mistake. We need to support families, and families are in the best position to make this decision.”

Asked if abortion was a similar situation, particularly before voters approved an abortion amendment in November, DeWine said: “These are all very contentious issues. For me, the commonality in my position is protecting human life. For me, the abortion issue is a question of human life. That’s why my position has always been, to do everything I could to protect human life of the unborn.”

Regarding the death penalty, DeWine said he doesn’t expect any executions to occur during his final three years as governor.

The state had used lethal injections until 2018. DeWine has said since 2019 that the state can’t obtain the three drugs used in carrying out the death penalty.

The only way to restart executions, DeWine said, is for the Legislature to change how it is done and there isn’t enough support for that.


DeWine declined to comment on whether he would support Donald Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner who criticized the governor for his gender-affirming veto, saying of the governor: “I’m finished with this stiff.”

In response, DeWine said, “I’m not going to answer any questions on the presidential race today,” and brushed off the criticism, saying he’s “been called a lot of things to worry about that.”

DeWine said he is “focused on Ohio,” and “I don’t know any voter who said, ‘Gee, I elected Mike DeWine. What I really want him to do is decide who to vote for president.'”

DeWine declined to say if he’d campaign for Trump if the former president is the nominee or even if he would vote for him.

The Ohio Republican Party and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted already have endorsed Trump.

DeWine also wouldn’t endorse any of the three Republican candidates running for the U.S. Senate in the March 19 GOP primary saying he likes all of them.

But DeWine did endorse Husted for governor in 2026.

“Sure, absolutely,” DeWine said when asked if he supported Husted’s gubernatorial campaign. “Look, Jon Husted has been an excellent, absolutely excellent lieutenant governor. He’s been involved in every major decision that we’ve made. He’s had a great focus on economic development so, yeah, I mean, he’s just done a great, great job. But look, I’ve got three years and my focus remains on running through the tape and getting as many things done as I can in the next three years. That’s what I’m focused on.”

Husted publicly supported the gender-affirming care ban that DeWine vetoed.

To watch the entire 75-minute interview with a group of Ohio newspaper editors, including representatives from The Vindicator, go to www.vindy.com and click the link provided with this story.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today