Credit: Creative Common License

COLUMBUS — Marijuana proponents in Ohio are flying high as State Issue 2 earned enough votes to make recreational cannabis legal in the Buckeye State. 

With 89.51% of precincts reporting statewide as of 11:15 p.m., the measure received 56.39% of favorable votes, according to unofficial results reported by the Ohio Secretary of State.

The new law will allow adults 21 and over to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and to grow plants at home. A 10% tax will be imposed on purchases. It will be spent on administrative costs, addiction treatment, municipalities with dispensaries and social equity and jobs programs that support the industry.

The initiated statute becomes law in 30 days, according to the issue’s ballot language. Ohio’s state legislature has until then to repeal the measure or make changes.

Ohio would become the 24th state to allow adult-use cannabis for fun, should the law survive scrutiny from state lawmakers.

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a Washington, D.C. organization focused on marijuana policy, said it’s a great day for Ohio.

“Our organization is proud to have been a member of a strong coalition of groups that advanced common sense cannabis policy for the people of Ohio by supporting Issue 2,” said Matthew Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.

“This victory represents the culmination of a years-long effort, as MPP also played a pivotal role in the passage of Ohio’s medical cannabis law in 2015.”

MPP was one of several major donors to the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA). 

Campaign finance reports show the CRMLA raised just north of $6 million and spent $5.2 million since September 2021, when the organization began pushing for the law. 

Protect Ohio Workers and Families, an anti-Issue 2 group, raised $442,900 and spent $230,258, according to reports filed on Oct. 25.

Spending surrounding Issue 2 pales in comparison to 2015, the last time Ohioans voted on a marijuana legalization initiative. Proponents back then spent more than $20 million in an effort to pass the measure; voters rejected it

Those on the opposing side of legalization said the fight against Issue 2 now goes to the Statehouse.

“This fight is not over,” Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action President Kevin Sabet said in a statement. The organization called on state lawmakers to eliminate provisions of Issue 2 that allow for commercial sales, advertising and production, at a minimum.

Republican Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman said lawmakers may also reconsider “questionable language” regarding limits on THC, the compound that gives marijuana its high.

How did Ashland County vote on Issue 2?

The issue failed in Ashland County by 10.56 percentage points, where commissioners took a rare stance against the initiated statute and where the Ashland County Republican Party opposed it officially. 

Voters cast 9,923 against recreational pot, whereas 8,028 supported the measure, according to final, unofficial results from the Ashland County Board of Elections.

How did Knox County vote on Issue 2?

The issue failed in Knox County by 1,125 votes. 

Voters cast 11,462 against the measure, whereas 10,337 supported the measure, according to final, unofficial results from the Knox County Board of Elections.

Neither party in Knox County took a formal stance on state issue 2.

How did Richland County vote on Issue 2?

Voters in Richland County said “no” to the statute — but by a slim margin.

There were 19,885 votes (50.40%) cast against recreational cannabis. Supporters cast 19,568 (49.60%) votes in favor. That represents a margin of 317.

The Richland County Republican Party voted unanimously recently opposing both state issues 1 and 2, whereas the Richland County Democratic Party never took a formal stance.

Lead reporter for Ashland Source who happens to own more bikes than pairs of jeans. His coverage focuses on city and county government, and everything in between. He lives in Mansfield with his wife and...