SB 86 Approved to Amend Marijuana Law In Ohio
December 13, 2023
The Ohio Senate has passed a bipartisan measure to alter and expand Issue 2. This legislation is the state’s voter-approved adult marijuana use initiative.
The legislation in question is Senate Bill 86 (SB 86), a revision of House Bill 86. The original bill appeared earlier in 2023 and intended to revise the state’s liquor control laws. Though House Bill 86 passed the House with little opposition during the summer, its future appears uncertain after these changes.
The Proposed Changes
According to the proposed changes, this legislation would remove the delay when purchasing cannabis from existing dispensaries. It would also allow them to cultivate marijuana at home. Another change would allow the expungement of various cannabis-related convictions. Unlike previous proposals, SB 86 does not include an emergency clause.
As such, it would take effect 90 days after the governor signs it into law. Should SB 86 succeed, it would allow anyone 21 and older to purchase recreational marijuana within 90 days of the bill’s effective date. However, this permission extends to purchases from medical marijuana dispensaries only. This change is much faster than Issue 2. The original legislation only permitted recreational sales roughly nine months after legalizing possession.
Parties interested in home cultivation should take note of related changes. According to SB 86, Issue 2’s cultivating limit of 12 plants would drop to six plants per household. The bill would also raise the marijuana excise tax from Issue 2’s 10% to 15%. In addition to the increase, SB 86 would allow local governments to levy up to 3% more in taxes.
Many advocates have called for expungements for some time, citing many benefits for those affected and the workforce. Furthermore, the legislation would distribute $15 million in revenue from these taxes to expungements for qualified marijuana-related convictions. Ohioans with previous convictions may request to have marijuana-related records expunged. This permission would also extend to anyone who pled guilty to possessing up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
“If a person, prior to the effective date of this section, was convicted of or has pleaded guilty to a violation of division (C)(3) or (7) of section 2925.11 of the Revised Code and the conduct that was the basis of the violation involved possession of not more than fifteen grams of hashish and not more than two and one-half ounces of marihuana other than hashish, the person may file an application under this section requesting an expungement of the record of conviction.”
SB 86 permits a prosecutor to file an objection against the expungement. Furthermore, the court can finalize the merits of such an objection when determining whether to order an expungement of an individual’s records. Interested parties must also know that the law includes a $50 fee, which an applicant must pay unless indigent.
Now that the state Senate has passed SB 86, it will be up to the House to concur with the changes. When or if this will occur at all remains uncertain. In the meantime, employers should review their policies regarding marijuana use and convictions. An excellent way to get started is by partnering with an experienced background screening company.
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