Ohio Marijuana Laws

  1. Ohio Cannabis
  2. Ohio Marijuana Laws

Key Points

  • In Ohio, medical marijuana is legal while recreational marijuana remains illegal.

  • Persons 18 and older may purchase medical marijuana from a licensed medical marijuana dispensary. However, smoking marijuana in public remains illegal.

  • It is legal to possess a 90-day supply of medical marijuana. It is a felony to possess over 200 grams of marijuana.

  • It is illegal to grow weed both for medical or recreational use.

  • There are penalties for the possession, cultivation, sales, trafficking, and distribution of weed in Ohio.

Is Marijuana Legal 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:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

  • Alzheimer's Disease

  • Cachexia, wasting syndrome

  • Cancer

  • Chronic Pain (Severe/Intractable)

  • Crohn's Disease

  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

  • Epilepsy (Seizures)

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Glaucoma

  • HIV/AIDS

  • Hepatitis C

  • Huntington's Disease

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Parkinson's Disease

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Sickle Cell Anemia

  • Spasticity

  • Spinal Cord Injury

  • Terminal Illness

  • Tourette Syndrome

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

  • Ulcerative Colitis

Ohio currently does not permit the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.

Ohio Marijuana Laws in 2022

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:

  • 1/10 of an ounce (two and eighty-three hundredths grams) of plant material

  • 295 milligrams of THC contained in a patch, lotion, cream, or ointment

  • 110 milligrams of THC contained in oil, tincture, capsule, or edible for oral administration

  • 590 milligrams of THC contained in oil for vaporization

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:

  • A patient's 90-day recommendation has now been separated into two 45-day fill periods based on the patient's current, active recommendation. The first period consists of days 1-45 of the recommendation and the second period consists of days 46-90 of the recommendation. The first fill period only starts when the patient receives a recommendation.

  • In each 45-day marijuana fill period, a patient may buy up to a 45-day supply of medical marijuana, regardless of when purchases are made within the 45-day fill period. For instance, if a patient visits a dispensary on day 25 and has not purchased any product during the fill period, that patient may purchase up to a 45-day supply of medical marijuana.

  • If the 45-day fill period has been exhausted, the patient must wait until the next 45-day fill period to purchase additional medical marijuana. Note that patients are under no compulsion to purchase full 45-day supplies in a fill period. However, you cannot purchase more than a maximum of a 45-day supply of medical marijuana during the next fill period even if you did not purchase a full 45-day supply in the previous fill period.

  • To help patients and dispensary employees calculate new fill periods, the Board of Pharmacy developed an online form that automatically calculates the new 45-day fill period.

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.

As of August 2022, Ohio has 58 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and 71 provisional dispensary licenses, bringing the total to 129. Per state law, Ohio also requires dispensaries to be at least 500 feet from schools, churches, libraries, playgrounds, or parks.

Timeline of –°annabis Law in Ohio

Marijuana laws evolved in Ohio and here are the main changes.

  • 1975: Ohio decriminalizes the possession of 100 grams or less of weed.

  • 2015: Ohioans voted against legalizing recreational marijuana.

  • 2016: The governor signs House Bill 523 into law, legalizing medical marijuana. The act establishes the state medical marijuana program and permits marijuana for medical purposes for certain debilitating conditions. Senate Bill 204, enacted in 2016, reduces the penalty of driver's license suspension for a marijuana violation from mandatory to discretionary.

  • 2018: The Ohio Board of Pharmacy issues licenses to dispensaries for medical marijuana sales.

  • 2019: Qualifying patients purchased medical marijuana for the first time from licensed dispensaries.

  • 2021: Ohio licensed 20 level 1 cultivators and 15 level 2 cultivators for medical marijuana growers. Level 1 cultivators can grow up to 25,000 square feet of marijuana, while level 2 cultivators may cultivate up to 3,000 square feet of marijuana.

  • 2022: Senate Bill 261 revises the medical marijuana laws. It adds arthritis, migraines, autism spectrum disorder, chronic muscle spasm, terminal illness, and opioid use disorder to the qualifying medical conditions. The act also establishes the Division of Marijuana Control in the Department of Commerce.

Federal Legalization of Weed in 2022

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:

  • The removal of the term marijuana and replacing it with cannabis

  • The regular publishing of demographic data for cannabis businesses and their employees.

  • It advocates for the expungement of conduct sentencing and convictions for certain federal cannabis offenses.

  • The Act mandates the Department of Education to investigate the impact of recreational marijuana on school and school-aged children in states that legalized marijuana.

  • An excise tax for cannabis imported into or produced in the US. It also imposes an occupational tax on cannabis export warehouses and production facilities.

  • The Act creates a trust fund to support businesses, communities, and individuals affected by drug wars.

  • The Act makes loans and other services available through the Small Business Administration for cannabis-related businesses and service providers.

  • It eliminates denying persons with certain cannabis-related convictions access to federal public benefits.

  • It ensures that persons with cannabis-related convictions or conduct get access to protection and benefits under immigration laws.

  • It instructs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to explore new methods to ascertain a driver's marijuana impairment.

  • The Act charges the Government Accountability Office to study the societal repercussions in states that have legalized recreational cannabis.

  • It commissions the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to survey the outcome of recreational cannabis in the workplace for states that have legalized marijuana.

Can I Use Cannabis?

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.

How the Legal Sale of Cannabis in Ohio Happens

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.

Penalties for Marijuana-related Crimes in Ohio

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: 

  • Up to 100 grams: This offense is considered a minor misdemeanor, meaning that there is no jail time and convictions do not appear on a person's criminal record. Violators may be fined up to $150.

  • Between 100 and 200 grams: Possession of 100 - 200 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days imprisonment and a fine of up to $250.

  • Between 200 and 1,000 grams: This is considered a felony punishable by incarceration of 1 year and a fine of up to $2,500

  • Between 1,000 and 20,000 grams: This is considered a felony punishable by incarceration of between 1 and 5 years and a fine of up to $10,000

  • Between 20,000 and 40,000 grams: This is considered a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment, which may go up to 8 years, and a $15,000 fine.

  • More than 40,000 grams: This is considered a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 8 years in jail and a $20,000 fine.

Possession with Intent to Distribute in Ohio

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:

  • Twenty grams without remuneration: It is a misdemeanor with a $150 fine and no jail sentence.

  • 200 - 1000 grams: It is a fourth-degree felony with 6- 18 months of incarceration and fines up to $2,500.

  • 1000 - 5,000 grams: This is a felony of the third degree. It attracts a jail sentence of 9 -36 months. The courts may impose fines of up to $5,000.

  • 5,000 - 20,000 grams: Trafficking up to 20,000 grams of marijuana attracts a penalty of two to eight years imprisonment and fines not exceeding $10,000.

  • 20,000 - 40,000 grams: The offender gets a five to eight years prison term with fines up to $15,000.

  • More than 40,000 grams: Persons trafficking marijuana in excess of 40,000 grams commit a felony. The court imposes an eight years mandatory minimum sentence with a maximum fine of $20,000.

Ohio marijuana distribution laws and limits include:

  • A gift of up to 20 grams or less (first offense): This is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $150.

  • A gift of up to 20 grams (second offense): This is considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days imprisonment and a fine of up to $500

  • Less than 200 grams: This offense is considered a felony punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

  • Between 200 and 1,000 grams: This offense is considered a felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

  • Between 1,000 and 20,000 grams: This offense is considered a felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

  • Between 20,000 and 40,000 grams: This offense is considered a felony punishable by up to 8 years in jail and a $2,500 fine. The offender is required to serve a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years.

  • More than 40,000 grams: This offense is considered a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 8 years in jail and a $20,000 fine.

Hash and Concentrates in Ohio

  • Possession of up to 5 grams/1 gram (solid/liquid): This is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $150.

  • Possession of 5 grams/1 gram - 10 grams/2 grams (solid/liquid): This is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in incarceration and a fine of up to $250.

  • Possession of 10 grams/2 grams - 50 grams/10 grams (solid/liquid): This is a felony punishable by 1 year imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500

  • Possession of 50 grams/10 grams - 1,000grams/200 grams (solid/liquid): This is a felony punishable by 3 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

  • Possession of 1,000 grams/200 grams (solid/liquid) or more: This is a felony punishable by 8 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.

  • Selling less than 10 grams/2 grams (solid/liquid): This is a felony punishable by 1 year imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500.

  • Selling 10 grams/2 grams - 50 grams/10 grams (solid/liquid): This is a felony punishable by 18 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

  • Selling 50 grams/10 grams - 1,000 grams/ 200 grams (solid/liquid): This is a felony punishable by 3 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

  • Selling 1,000 grams/200 grams (solid/liquid) or more: This is a felony punishable by 8 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.

Marijuana Paraphernalia in Ohio

  • Possession of paraphernalia: This is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $150

  • Sale of paraphernalia: This is considered a misdemeanor punishable by 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $750.

Cultivation in Ohio

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.

  • 100 -200 grams: Cultivating up to 200 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor. The penalty is a maximum of a 30-day jail term and fines not exceeding $250. If cultivation is within the vicinity of a school or juvenile, the penalty is incarceration for 60 days with a maximum fine of $500.

  • 200 -1,000 grams: Illegal cultivation of up to 1,000 grams attracts a penalty of six months to one-year incarceration and fines of up to $2500. Where the cultivation site is close to a school or juvenile, the offender gets a jail sentence of 30 days and a fine of $250. However, the court may impose a prison term in addition to the penalties.

  • 1,000 - 5,000 grams: It is a felony with a penalty of 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. If the cultivation area is within a juvenile or school vicinity, the penalty is a jail term of 90 days and fines of up to $750.

  • 5,000 -20,000 grams: Cultivating above 5,000 grams of marijuana attracts a jail sentence of 60 days and fines up to $500. Cultivating over 5,000 grams of marijuana close to a school area or juvenile, the offender gets a jail term of 90 days with a maximum fine of $750. However, because of the large amount, the court may impose a prison term in addition to these penalties.

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.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Marijuana in Ohio

Ohio laws%20No%20person,or%20a%20combination%20of%20them.) 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:

  • First Offense: The offender gets a compulsory three days imprisonment, served consecutively. The maximum jail sentence is six months, with fines not less than $375 but not exceeding $1,075. In addition, the court may mandate the attendance of a three days driver's intervention program and six months to three years license suspension.

  • Second Offense: A second-time offender commits a misdemeanor. The penalty is a mandatory ten days in jail served consecutively. The maximum incarceration period is six months, with compulsory attendance in a drug treatment program. The offender pays a fine of not less than $525 but no more than $1,625. The court also authorizes a one to five years license suspension.

  • Third Offense: A third offense within six years of a prior offense attracts a compulsory jail term of 30 days. The jail sentence may go up to one year. In addition, the court imposes a fine between $850 and $2,750, suspends the offender's license for two to ten years, and mandates attendance in a drug addiction program. Lastly, the individual forfeits the motor vehicle.

  • Fourth and Fifth Offense: It is a felony. The penalty is one to five years. The offender must serve 60 days mandatory minimum served consecutively. The court mandates a fine between $1,350 and $10,500 and a license suspension of three years to life. The convict must attend a drug addiction program and may be in danger of asset forfeiture.

  • Sixth and Subsequent Offense: The penalty is a mandatory four months of incarceration with a maximum jail sentence not exceeding five years. The courts impose a fine between $1,350 and $10,500 and suspend the user's license. Participation in a drug treatment program is compulsory. The individual may also lose their vehicle through government seizure.

Possible Remedies for Defendants of Violating Ohio Marijuana Laws

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:

  • Affirmative Defense: The defendant, approved by a physician, has a qualifying medical condition listed in Ohio medical marijuana law.

  • Entrapment: The defense can assert that the defendant's possession of marijuana was due to intimidation from a law enforcement officer.

  • Ownership: The defense can argue that the marijuana does not belong to the defendant and place the burden of proof on the prosecution to prove otherwise.

  • Illegal Search: It is unlawful for law enforcement to search without a valid warrant. A defendant can get the marijuana violation charges dropped if the discovery of the marijuana without a valid search warrant.

  • Defendant's Rights: During the arrest, if the arresting officer fails to read the defendant their right, the court can drop the marijuana violation charges.

  • Collaboration with the Investigation: In the absence of an affirmative defense, the defendant may cooperate with the investigation, offering the police valuable information that can lead to taking down a drug cartel. In exchange, the court may offer reduced to no jail time, probation, community service, or a mandatory drug rehabilitation treatment program.

Confiscation of Assets in Ohio

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.

Additional Limitations

More marijuana limitations in Ohio are as follows:

  • In Ohio, any drug conviction may also result in a driver's license suspension for a period of between 6 months to 5 years.

  • The sale or distribution of marijuana to a juvenile within 1,000 feet of a school, within 100 feet of a juvenile, or by an individual with a previous drug conviction will increase the fine and the jail term.

  • Ohio prescribes the same penalties for the illegal cultivation of marijuana as for illegal possession of the drug.

  • Ohio laws permit the vaporization of marijuana. However, smoking medical marijuana is illegal.

  • Ohio marijuana laws do not require employees to accommodate an employee's medical marijuana use.

  • In Ohio, marijuana falls under the rebuttable presumption. Therefore, an employee who sustains injury in the workplace due to marijuana intoxication will not receive employee compensation.

  • Although medical cannabis is legal in Ohio, the law specifies the maximum quantities a person with a medical marijuana card may purchase.

  • The protection for affirmative defense for a medical marijuana patient does not hold if the patient possesses more than a 90-day supply of marijuana.

  • The affirmative defense for patients does not cover the cultivation of marijuana.

  • Approved forms of medical marijuana in Ohio are edibles, plant materials, oil patches, and tinctures.

  • Ohio law does not prohibit employers from hiring, disciplining, or terminating the employment of persons using medical marijuana.

  • Ohio law does not prohibit an employer from enforcing a drug testing or drug-free workplace policy.

What is Ohio's Cannabis History?

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.

What are Restrictions on Cannabis in Ohio?

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:

  • You must be aged 18 or older to use medical cannabis in Ohio.

  • Medical marijuana patients can only possess up to a 90-day supply of cannabis at once.

  • You can only use medical marijuana in Ohio if you are registered under the medical marijuana control program (MMCP) and possess a medical marijuana card and a certified physician's recommendation.

  • It is not permitted to share your marijuana with other patients even if they are registered medical marijuana patients in Ohio.

  • Medical cannabis may not be smoked; however, it can be vaporized.

  • Purchasing marijuana from places other than licensed dispensaries is illegal.

  • Ohio residents cannot consume cannabis on federal properties in the state.

  • Ohio residents cannot take cannabis across state lines, even if they are going to another cannabis-friendly state.

  • Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal.

  • Per HB-523, the possession, use, or sale of cannabis is prohibited within 500 feet of a school, church, public library, or park.

In this section:
Ohio Marijuana Laws