MARCANO: Diving into the nuances of Issue 2

Voters will decide this November whether Ohioans can legally possess cannabis for personal use. It’s a hot-button issue, with both sides sharpening their messaging for and against the indirect initiated state statute.

There’s a lot of interesting nuisances in a dense statute few will read, so here’s an overview. The numbers correlate with a section of the statute, so it’s easier to do more research.

Where can I read the statute’s full text?

Ballotpedia and the Ohio Secretary of State have the full texts that you can read online.

What do the polls show?

They’ve been steady, with support among Democrats in the high 60s and Republicans in the upper 40s. All told, 58% of Ohioans back the measure.

How many states have legalized marijuana?

Some 24 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. The states run the ideological gamut, from liberal New York, to purple Arizona, to deep-red Montana.

What was the vote like in these states?

Initiatives to legalize marijuana have passed relatively easily, often with 55% or more of the vote, according to a Ballotpedia tally. So far, Maine’s 2016 vote has been the closest, with 50.26% voting yes and 49.74% voting no.

If passed, how will Ohioans obtain marijuana?

You can visit a local, state-approved dispensary or grow up to six plants per person, with a maximum of 12, at home for personal consumption. (No. 28). The statute notes, however, that landlords may prohibit growing plants as long as it’s a part of the lease agreement. (3780.29)

Opponents say legalizing marijuana could harm families and children and increase crime. Is that so?

Independent research tends not to support that contention, though you can find ideology-based work that does. The libertarian-leaning Cato Institute published a 2021 study that looked at the claims made by advocates and opponents and found them off base. Cato found that legalizing cannabis has one provable impact — raising tax revenue. “The absence of significant adverse consequences is especially striking given the sometimes‐dire predictions made by legalization opponents,” Cato said in its report.

Who would regulate marijuana sales and companies?

The statute would create a Division of Cannabis Control under the state Department of Commerce.

Can smokers light up anywhere?

No. The statute makes consuming cannabis in public places a misdemeanor. (3780.99) You must be 21 to smoke, and it’s a crime to forge information to buy marijuana. (3780.99)

Can local municipalities ban marijuana dispensaries?

Generally, yes, though there are exceptions. Local government can’t ban or limit an existing medical dispensary, for example. (3780.25).

How much money does the state estimate it will reap in tax revenue?

Ohio State researchers estimate the state could see $276M to $374M in annual revenue by year five.

What’s the jobs program in this statute?

The statuteestablishes a cannabis social equity and jobs program and requires the Department of Development to certify program applicants based on social and economic disadvantage, which includes membership in a racial or ethnic minority group, disability status, gender, or long-term residence in an area of high unemployment.” However, the statute, in section 3780.18 (B) says the program “should” be established, not “must.”

Can marijuana use affect your health?

Yes, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Some users could suffer breathing problems, nausea, and vomiting. Cannabis use can affect cognitive function.

Will cannabis operators be allowed to advertise?

Yes, though the division of cannabis control can adopt rules that regulate such ads.

Based on history (other issues have passed relatively easily) and polling, it seems as if the statute has a good chance of passing. Opponents here make arguments that have already failed in other states, giving them a messaging challenge.

But the biggest challenge may be this. How many voters are going to get worked up over possessing a small amount of weed for personal use in a non-public setting?

Ray Marcano’s column appears in the Dayton Daily News each Sunday. He can be reached at

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