Ohio May Add Marijuana Legalization and Expungement Bill to November Ballot

July 20, 2023

Once again, the Ohio State Assembly will consider a marijuana legalization bill. Should the Assembly agree, it would allow Ohio voters to decide whether to legalize marijuana. Supporters of legalizing marijuana have tried acquiring enough signatures for this opportunity to appear on November’s ballot.

The House will consider House Bill 168, also known as the Ohio Adult Use Act. It would allow Ohio residents to purchase, possess, and cultivate marijuana. In addition, individuals could request expungement for their low-level, nonviolent convictions involving possession or trafficking.

Furthermore, the bill would place a 10% sales tax on marijuana and related products. This sales tax would benefit several agencies and causes, such as the Ohio Department of Public Safety, which would use this tax to combat drug trafficking. In addition, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services would help individuals struggling with substance abuse or chemical dependency. Other uses include K-12 education, Ohio’s General Revenue Fund, and local government funding.

Representative Weinstein said they looked at the best aspects of the laws from states that have successfully legalized marijuana. As such, they integrated these elements into House Bill 168. He also mentioned concerns about Ohio missing out on revenue opportunities due to Ohioans acquiring marijuana out-of-state. 

If passed, the law would put Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program in charge of regulating the non-medical possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana products for adult use. In addition, it would change the Board’s name to the Division of Marijuana Control.

This bill holds significant bipartisan support. Based on other states’ successes, many believe it would increase job and housing opportunities after expunging some low-level convictions. However, some people have concerns about the effect of easy access to marijuana. 

They believe it necessary for the state to provide support for those who use marijuana. For example, a Fresh Start Worship Center pastor voiced concerns about marijuana users using it to cope with stress or relax. He worried it could lead to use disorders because many consider it a gateway drug. As such, he suggests people learn about the risks associated with marijuana if the state legalizes recreational use.

Employers should prepare in case the bill passes legislation. However, they have until fall to see whether the bill receives enough votes to reach the ballot. Until then, employers can prepare by ensuring their hiring practices will comply with the new rule. The best way to do this is to partner with an experienced background check company.

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