**Can You Smoke Weed in Public in Ohio? **
Yes. However, only medical marijuana is legal. Ohio permits the use of marijuana for medical purposes for those registered with the state's Medical Marijuana Control Program. Qualifying patients can use medical marijuana in cream, edible, flower, lotion, oils, patches, tincture forms. You can legally use medical marijuana by:
You may qualify to legally use marijuana in Ohio if you are suffering from one or more of these conditions:
Ohio currently does not permit the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. However, the state is likely to make adult-use marijuana legal at the end of 2023 as it puts the question to vote on the November 2023 ballot.
The State of Ohio became the 25th state in the United States to pass a medical marijuana law. Passed in June 2016, HB-523 established the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program which allows people with certain medical conditions, upon the recommendation of Ohio-licensed physicians certified by the State Medical Board, to purchase and use medical marijuana. Per HB-523, a patient was required to establish a relationship with a physician certified by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to recommend marijuana as a treatment for the patient.
Upon recommendation and submission of the patient's registration, a patient must then apply for a medical marijuana card and pay the associated fee. Medical marijuana is not available to persons under the age of 18, except in instances where such persons have medical marijuana purchased on their behalf by designated caregivers with valid and active recommendations.
While many states in the United States do not limit patients in relation to the quantity of marijuana they can purchase over a given period, Ohio places certain restrictions on the quantity of use. According to Rule 3796:8-2-04 of the Ohio Administrative Code, a patient and a patient's caregiver may collectively procure no less than a whole day unit at a particular instance. A whole day unit equals the following amounts for each authorized form of medical marijuana:
In order to provide a simpler way for patients, caregivers, and dispensaries to calculate days' supply while ensuring that patients do not exceed stipulated limits, Ohio established certain processes set forth in Rules 3796:7-2 and 3796:8-2 of the Ohio Administrative Code. The law requires dispensaries to calculate patients' days' supply as follows:
Ohio places a restriction on smoking marijuana in the state. Although inhalation of medical marijuana is permitted through the use of a vaporizing device, smoking or combustion is illegal even for registered patients with qualifying medical conditions. There are three basic delivery methods of medical marijuana administration: inhalation, ingestion, and transdermal. Each of these methods is appropriate for different treatments.
In Ohio, the possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor regardless of a registered patient's status. Medical marijuana must be stored safely to prevent theft and unauthorized access. Products must be stored in the dispensary container with the original label. It is illegal for a motorist to drive while under the influence of medical marijuana. It is illegal to cross state lines with marijuana even if you have a medical prescription. You should also not travel with marijuana into federally owned lands within Ohio.
In 2023, there are two efforts likely to get recreational marijuana legalized in Ohio before the end of the year. The first is a continuation of the Regulate Cannabis Like Alcohol Initiative, begun in 2022, to put the question of legalizing adult-use marijuana to vote at the November 7, 2023 ballot. On August 16, 2023, the Ohio Secretary of State announced that the organizers had sufficient signatures and that the measure would appear on the 2023 ballot. If successful at the ballot, this initiative would:
The second effort to legalize adult-use cannabis in Ohio is a House Bill introduced on May 22, 2023 by Jamie Callender (R) and Casey Weinstein (D), two representatives in the state House. House Bill 168 proposes the following regulations for an Ohio recreational marijuana market:
Marijuana laws evolved in Ohio and here are the main changes.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, introduced in 2021 and passed in 2022, decriminalizes marijuana. The bill explicitly removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and abolishes criminal penalties for persons who possess, manufacture, or distribute marijuana. Other changes highlighted in the act include:
Yes, you can legally use cannabis in Ohio if you are 18 years or older, suffering from one of the qualifying conditions, and have a physician's recommendation. Although medical cannabis became legal in 2016, the medical marijuana program only fully became operational in 2019 as administrative and regulatory delays meant that operations were postponed from the initial start date in 2018.
If you are under the age of 18, you can still qualify to use medical cannabis through a parent or legal guardian assigned as a caregiver. Caregivers can purchase medical cannabis products on behalf of the patients registered under them. You must also be a resident of Ohio to legally use medical cannabis in the state.
Cannabis arrival in the United States is commonly associated with the Mexican Revolution of 1910. However, before then, the production of hemp, that is, the cannabis plant was encouraged by the United States government in the 17th Century. In the 19th century, marijuana became a common ingredient used in many medicinal products and could be purchased in pharmacies. The Mexican immigrants brought with them the recreational use of marijuana and many citizens warned against an impending danger following violent incidents thought to be linked with marijuana use. By 1931, nearly 30 states had banned the use of marijuana.
Cannabis was effectively criminalized in 1937, with the Marijuana Tax Act levying a tax on persons who dealt commercially in hemp or marijuana. In the 1950s, the United States set mandatory penalties for drug-related offenses. In 1972, the Shafer Commission established by the Congress considered laws regarding marijuana, and determined that the personal use of marijuana should be decriminalized. Yet, the U.S. government rejected the recommendation, but over the course of the 1970s, 11 states decriminalized marijuana and many others reduced the penalties for marijuana crimes.
A major shift began to permeate across the United States, beginning with the passing of Proposition 215 by California in 1996. Proposition 215 allowed for the sale and medical use of marijuana for patients with cancer, AIDS, and other serious painful diseases. Today, over 30 states have legalized cannabis for medicinal use.
Dispensaries are not allowed to grow and cultivate cannabis in Ohio. The state issues cultivation licenses to successful applicants interested in cultivating cannabis. A cultivation license allows a cannabis business to grow, inventory, and sell cannabis plants to licensed processors and dispensaries. Ohio also issues processor licenses to businesses that allow the business owners to purchase harvested cannabis from cultivators and create marijuana-based products, such as hash, edibles, topicals, and concentrates.
You can only purchase medical marijuana and paraphernalia from licensed medical dispensaries in Ohio. The authorized forms of medical marijuana in Ohio are contained in Rule 3796:8-2-01 of the Ohio Administrative Code. You can find marijuana products in various forms, including flower, lotion, creams, tinctures, patches, edibles, and concentrated oils.
Note that prices vary from one dispensary to the other. Ohio puts no cap on the prices of marijuana products. Prices vary depending on the strain, weight, and type of product. According to a survey conducted by the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, many Ohio medical marijuana patients spend up to $300 a month on medical marijuana. You can find their locations by using the dispensary location tool on the Ohio medical marijuana website. Some dispensaries in Ohio offer curbside pickup services in addition to storefront sales.
Under Ohio law, the possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor crime. However, the severity of the charges against an offender increases with the weight of the drug. The following are penalties for various marijuana-related crimes in Ohio:
Ohio marijuana possession laws include the following:
It is unlawful to knowingly obtain or possess marijuana with the intent to distribute it. It is illegal to sell, ship, transport, deliver or distribute marijuana. The penalty for possession with intent to distribute is 6-18 months of incarceration with a maximum fine of $5,000.
Anyone who sells, ships, or transports marijuana in Ohio is guilty of trafficking per the Ohio marijuana trafficking laws. The penalty an individual faces for trafficking marijuana in Ohio depends on the weight of the marijuana. The jail term and fines for marijuana trafficking in Ohio are as follows:
Ohio marijuana distribution laws and limits include:
It is unlawful to cultivate marijuana in Ohio. The marijuana cultivation charge is a misdemeanor offense. However, it becomes a grievous offense if the cultivation site is close to a school or a juvenile center.
Although medical cannabis is legal in Ohio, patients may only consume marijuana on private property. Consuming marijuana on the grounds of a government building or a healthcare facility is illegal. It is also unlawful to consume marijuana in public places such as parks, transit terminals, parking lots, and playgrounds.
Ohio laws make it an offense to operate a motor vehicle under a marijuana-induced impairment. The penalty for driving under the influence of marijuana in Ohio is as follows:
It is possible to get off a marijuana violation charge in Ohio. Depending on the circumstances leading to the arrest, a good defense lawyer can advocate the following:
On conviction of a felony drug abuse offense where the convicted received profits and other assets from the illegal act, the courts may confiscate the assets and profits instead of fines. Forfeitable assets for violating Ohio marijuana laws include contraband, proceeds, or instruments connected to the felony act.
More marijuana limitations in Ohio are as follows:
Cannabis was a prohibited substance in the United States following the enactment of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The plant was effectively criminalized by the imposition of tariffs by the government on the sale, possession, or transfer of all hemp products. In 1970, the incumbent president, Richard Nixon, repealed the Marijuana Tax Act and classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug through the Controlled Substances Act. In 1975, Ohio joined six other states to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
In 1995, Ohioans tried to push through the legalization of marijuana through the state's first and only initiated statute (ballot issue) for marijuana. The initiative, called the Industrial Hemp and Medical Marijuana Initiative (MMIH), was set up to receive approval for signature gathering by the State Attorney General. In 1996, in a further move to legalize marijuana, For A Better Ohio (FABO) was formed as the first statewide marijuana advocacy organization. The organization had chapters in Toledo, Columbus, Cincinnati, and other Ohio cities, and collected over 50,000 signatures for the MMIH.
In its first act of the year, the Ohio General Assembly passed SB2 in 1995, which repealed the defense of medical necessity. Between 1998 and 2015, eight medical marijuana bills were introduced in the Ohio General Assembly, but none passed the committee. In 2002, Ohio's first medical marijuana patient advocacy group called the Ohio Patient Network was formed. In the same year, with funding from Peter Lewis, an American businessman and chairman of the Progressive Insurance Company, the Marijuana Policy Project began a grants program to intensify state-level advocacy. Additional funds were also provided by the Drug Policy Alliance.
In 2002, Ohio's first drug policy, called Treatment in Lieu of Incarceration, was sponsored in part by Peter Lewis. The policy focused on amending the existing marijuana law but failed to make the ballot. It was defeated 33-67%. Between 2010 and 2016, 20 proposed citizen-led ballot initiatives related to medical marijuana were submitted to the Ohio Attorney General's Office for certification to gather over 300,000 valid signatures for ballot placement. Eight certified amendments were made to some of these ballots, and they include:
In 2013, the Ohio Rights Group (ORG) fielded the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment and collected more than 150,000 signatures. The ORG came closer to the ballot than any other grassroots group in Ohio to make a meaningful impact on the state's cannabis policy. However, it lacked funding to make the ballot. In 2015, Responsible Ohio (Issue 3), an Initiative spent $20 million to place the Marijuana Legalization Amendment on the ballot. The Initiative proposed to legalize the limited sale and use of marijuana and to create 10 cultivation sites established by the investors who funded the amendment to have exclusive commercial rights to grow cannabis. Issue 3 was dubbed a monopoly by opponents and was eventually rejected by voters 33-65%.
To defeat Issue 3, the Ohio General Assembly passed Issue 2 to prevent Issue 3 from taking effect. It allowed the Ohio Ballot Board to regulate ballot measures dealing with monopolies. Issue 2 was approved by voters 51-49%. In 2016, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana (OMM) fielded the Medical Use of Marijuana Amendment sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). OMM sought to place a regulatory framework on marijuana in the Ohio Constitution. OMM was pulled after the passage of HB523.
In 2016, HB523 established the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. HB523 evolved through 3 public town hall meetings and 7 Medical Marijuana Task Force hearings. The bill (HB523) was passed by both the Ohio House (67-29) and Ohio Senate (18-15) within one month. On the 8th of June 2016, Governor Kasich signed HB523 into law.
HB523 permitted the use of medical marijuana for qualified patients with physicians' recommendations. The law also tasked the Department of Commerce with developing rules for licensing and regulating medical marijuana cultivators, processors, and testing laboratories. It charged the Board of Pharmacy with licensing dispensaries and creating a patient and caregiver registry. The state's Medical Board was assigned the responsibility of maintaining a list of qualifying conditions and certifying recommending physicians.
In the general election of 2018, an amendment to the Ohio marijuana law was passed by voters. This amendment regulated marijuana like alcohol by establishing a free market system. However, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program was allowed to continue serving qualified patients.
As marijuana becomes more mainstream, the plan to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio continues to gain more traction. In July 2021, Ohio lawmakers formally introduced a bill (HB210) to legalize marijuana possession, production, and sales. The bill is the first effort of its kind in the state legislature. HB210, filed by Reps. Casey Weinstein and Terrence Upchurch is a 180-page bill proposing the legalization of the possession of up to five ounces of cannabis for residents aged 21 and older. The bill, if it becomes a law, would also allow adults to cultivate up to 12 plants for personal use.
HB210 also proposes a 10% excise tax on marijuana sales, with revenues initially going towards footing the cost of implementation and then being shared among Ohio municipalities with a minimum of one cannabis shop (15%), counties with a minimum of one shop (15%), K-12 education (35%) and infrastructure (35%). Per HB210, the state Department of Commerce would be responsible for overseeing the program and issuing cannabis business licenses.
In another move to push through the legalization of recreational marijuana, a newly formed organization called the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) submitted over two hundred thousand signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State in 2021 to put up the legalization of marijuana in the November 2021 ballot. However, the court ruled out the legislation in May 2022. As part of the settlement, the courts ruled that the CTRMLA could bring the reform in for legislative review in 2023 without collecting new signatures.
Also, in May 2022, two Ohio lawmakers filed a bill, HB 382, to legalize marijuana. The bill is identical to the CTRMLA bill and contains the legal limit for adult purchase and possession, cultivation limit, sales tax, and a division to regulate adult-use cannabis. Should other lawmakers fail to act on the bill, the legalization of marijuana would be put to a vote in November 2022.
Ohio activists initially planned to place a cannabis legalization initiative on the statewide ballot in 2020, but that effort stalled as the coronavirus outbreak and resulting public health restrictions made signature-gathering nearly impossible.
In 2023, the Regulate Cannabis Like Alcohol Initiative finally got the measure to let voters decide on legalizing adult-use marijuana on the November 2023 ballot. In a parallel move, two legislators in the Ohio House of Representatives introduced House Bill 168 in a bid to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.
Only medical cannabis is legal in Ohio. Possession, sale, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana for recreational use are currently prohibited. The following are restrictions placed on the use of cannabis in Ohio: