In a surprising turn of events, Ohio lawmakers are considering significant changes to the voter-approved cannabis legalization bill, sparking debates about the original intent of the measure. The proposed amendments, introduced by state Rep. Gary Click, include removing provisions that previously prevented municipalities from banning cannabis operations and home cultivation.
The voter-approved measure, which gained support in local elections, initially safeguarded towns and cities from imposing bans on cannabis industry operations and home cultivation. Furthermore, the measure prohibited municipalities from imposing special taxes or fees on cannabis operations. However, Rep. Click’s bill seeks to eliminate these protections, potentially allowing local authorities to decide on the presence of cannabis-related activities within their jurisdictions.
One of the critical alterations proposed by Rep. Click pertains to the allocation of cannabis-derived revenues. The voter-approved measure established five distinct funds in the state treasury, each serving a specific purpose. These funds included the adult-use tax fund, the cannabis social equity and jobs fund, the host community cannabis fund, the substance abuse and addiction fund, and the division of cannabis control and tax commissioner fund.
Under Rep. Click’s proposed changes, the substance abuse fund would be split into two separate entities. Notably, a law enforcement cannabis training fund would be newly created, emphasizing a shift in priorities for the utilization of cannabis-generated revenues.
The revenue allocation percentages for several funds would also be adjusted under Rep. Click’s bill. The cannabis social equity and jobs fund, as well as the host community cannabis fund, would receive 19.4% each, down from the originally designated 36%. Similarly, the substance abuse research and addiction education fund would receive 19.4%, as opposed to the initially proposed 25%. Another 19.4% would be directed towards both the substance abuse addiction and recovery fund and the law enforcement cannabis training fund.
While the proposed changes are set to take effect on December 7, uncertainties surround the bill’s journey through the legislative process. House Speaker Jason Stephens (R) expressed uncertainty about the bill reaching the floor for discussion in the upcoming week, highlighting potential challenges and debates among lawmakers.
As Ohio navigates this unexpected legislative shift, the cannabis industry and advocates closely watch the developments, questioning the implications of the proposed amendments on the state’s evolving cannabis landscape.