Cannabis cultivation for recreational purposes is illegal in Franklin County under Section 2925.04 of the Ohio Revised Code. The illegal cultivation of marijuana in Franklin County is a crime that can potentially attract serious penalties depending on the number of cannabis plants cultivated. If the amount of cannabis found in possession of the cultivator is less than 100 grams, the crime is punishable only by a fine. However, if more than 20 kilograms is found in possession of the cultivator and the cultivation occurs near a school or juvenile, the offense is punishable by a maximum of a 10-year jail term.
Although cannabis cultivation is illegal for recreational purposes, entities that have obtained the requisite cultivation licenses may cultivate cannabis for medical marijuana purposes under the Ohio medical marijuana program. Note that it is illegal for patients and caregivers registered under the Ohio medical marijuana program to cultivate cannabis at home.
Cannabis manufacturing for recreational purposes is illegal in Franklin County. Only Ohio Department of Commerce-licensed medical marijuana processors may manufacture cannabis. However, such cannabis manufacturing must only be for medical marijuana purposes.
Recreational cannabis sales are illegal in Franklin County. However, dispensary licensees are permitted to sell medical marijuana products to certified and registered medical marijuana patients. Medical marijuana dispensaries are required to verify the ages of consumers before selling them medical marijuana. Per Ohio medical marijuana law (HB 523), medical marijuana patients in Ohio must be aged 18 or older and must have obtained medical marijuana certifications from approved physicians. HB 523 requires medical marijuana dispensaries to be located at least 500 feet away from schools, public libraries, religious institutions, public playgrounds, or public parks. No medical marijuana dispensary may sell more than a 90-day supply of medical marijuana to a customer in Ohio.
In addition, medical marijuana dispensaries are only permitted to dispense medical marijuana to qualifying patients and caregivers between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. except where otherwise permitted by a local ordinance. Dispensaries must be open for operations for a minimum of 35 hours a week, except when otherwise allowed by the State Board of Pharmacy per Rule 3796:6-3-03 of the Ohio Administrative Code.
Cannabis delivery is illegal in Franklin County under Rule 3796:6-3-22 of the Ohio Administrative Code. Per Rule 3796:6-3-22 (K) of the OAC, no dispensary may transport medical marijuana or medical products to the residences of patients or caregivers. Dispensaries are also not allowed to operate drive-through sales points or pickup units. Rule 3796:6-3-01 (D)(3) also stipulates that medical marijuana dispensaries may only sell marijuana to patients and caregivers in their dispensary sections.
The Ohio Medical marijuana (MMJ) card is an identification card that identifies the cardholder as a registered medical marijuana patient in the state and a qualified patient who can legally obtain a 60-day supply of medical marijuana. For a Franklin County resident to be eligible to get an MMJ card, the individual must be 18 years or older and reside in the county or another location in Ohio. Persons under the age of 18 who intend to register as medical marijuana patients in Franklin County must designate caregivers aged 21 or older. The State Board of Pharmacy issues the MMJ card under the Ohio medical marijuana program established by House Bill 523 in 2016.
The first step in getting a medical marijuana card in Franklin County is to visit a certified-to-recommend (CTR) physician or approved telehealth provider in the county to obtain a medical marijuana recommendation. The State of Ohio requires all physicians recommending medical marijuana to get a "Certificate to Recommend'' from the State Medical Board. Per state law, MMJ applicants seeking to obtain medical marijuana certifications are required to have bona fide physician-patient relationships with the recommending physicians.
During the appointment with the medical practitioner, the applicant will be required to provide proof of residency in Ohio via a state-issued ID such as a driver's license and any other identification issued by the State of Ohio. A United States passport with a current address in Ohio is also a valid proof of residency. In addition, the physician will ask questions about the applicant's medical history in order to determine if medical marijuana is suitable for the medical condition suffered by the applicant. The approved medical conditions for which medical marijuana may be used in Ohio include:
Upon determining that an applicant can use medical marijuana, the CTR physician will initiate the applicant's registration in the Ohio Patient and Caregiver Registry. Subsequently, the applicant will receive an email with an activation link for completing the registration. While completing the registration, the applicant will be required to pay a registration fee of $50. Some persons, such as veterans and indigents, may be eligible for reduced costs.
Once the application has been approved, the applicant will be able to print out their medical marijuana card from the Ohio Patient and Caregiver Registry. The approval process may take 2-3 weeks. The MMJ card and a government-issued ID may be used to purchase medical marijuana products from licensed dispensaries in Franklin County.
Although recreational cannabis has not been legalized in Ohio, the medical marijuana sector still contributes significantly to the state's economy through sales and revenues generated from taxes levied on medical marijuana products. The State of Ohio charges a 5.75% sales tax on every purchase of medical marijuana, while municipalities in the county may also charge up to a 2.25% tax on medical marijuana purchases. As of March 2022, the medical marijuana industry in Ohio has generated over $720 million in sales, according to historical sales data from the ODC (Ohio Department of Commerce) medical marijuana sales program.
Also, a study published by the OSU (Ohio State University) suggests that if recreational marijuana is legalized in Ohio, the state will generate up to $375 million in annual tax revenue. The study pairs tax rates, population growth estimates, and annual data from six other states with recreational programs to make estimates for Ohio. The study also suggests that regardless of the tax structure adopted by the state for the recreational marijuana market, Ohio would generate hundreds of millions in annual cannabis tax revenues from the adult-use marijuana market.
Since the legalization of medical marijuana in June 2016, DUI, marijuana possession, and marijuana possession arrest figures have dropped in Ohio. In 2016, Ohio recorded 26,437 DUI arrests, 18,274 marijuana possession arrests, and 1,034 marijuana sales arrests. In 2017, DUI and marijuana possession arrests declined to 15,571 and 17,625 arrests respectively, while 1,081 arrests were made for marijuana sales.
In 2018, DUI arrests declined further to 14,610, marijuana possession arrests figures increased to 18,335, and marijuana sales arrests decreased to 866. In 2019, all three arrest figures declined notably, with Ohio recording 13,038 DUI arrests, 13,457 marijuana possession arrests, and 390 marijuana sales arrests. In 2020, Ohio recorded the lowest arrest rates yet for marijuana-related offenses, with 9,668 DUI arrests, 5,554 marijuana possession arrests, and 211 marijuana sales arrests.