COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Adjacent to other issues and candidates on the Nov. 7 ballot, voters in the state will be asked whether to legalize the sale, purchase and possession of marijuana for all Ohioans 21 and older.
Close to 59% percent of likely Ohio voters, responding to a July poll administered by Suffolk University, said they would vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. Only 6.6% were undecided, with 34.8% against the issue.
But unlike Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment to enshrine abortion rights, Issue 2 will appear as an initiated statute — giving state lawmakers the final word.
The governor does not have the authority to veto a proposal made law via the ballot, according to the Ohio Constitution, but legislators can still propose and pass modifications to the new law after the election. With about two-and-a-half months until Election Day, some lawmakers are already thinking loosely about what moves the General Assembly might make.
Rep. Josh Williams (R-Sylvania) said he feels somewhat neutral about the recreational marijuana proposal that will go before voters. Some of the legislative text, he said, “could be fixed or could have been drafted better.”
“There’s portions of it that I don’t like, there’s portions of it that I could tolerate,” Williams said.
Williams cited general concerns about adult-use legalization making cannabis more accessible to minors and causing more people to drive under the influence. One of his big sticking points within the proposed law itself, he said, is the home-growing provisions.
Under the law’s text, Ohioans could grow six or fewer cannabis plants from their homes. That limit goes to 12 or fewer for households with two or more adults over the age of 21.
“The idea is that we definitely don’t just want to make it readily available to minors inside of the home,” Williams said.
Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) said he views allowing home growing in a different light — protecting Ohioans’ personal freedoms.
“I view it as a personal liberty and a privacy issue, to be able to have home grow,” Weinstein said. “And plus, for a lot of folks who can’t afford access to the market, this provides a pathway to do this.”
Weinstein has introduced legislation at the Statehouse before to legalize recreational cannabis, with similar clauses. If voters pass Issue 2, he said he believes his colleagues across the aisle should leave it as is.
“Sadly, no, I don’t have confidence that some kind of lame-duck session here, or a holiday session at the end of the year or next year, that some changes would be forced through,” he said.
The legislature wouldn’t preempt the election outcome, Williams said. “It’s not our role,” he said. “We let their voices be heard.”
But if the proposal passes, he certainly sees possibilities for adjustments.