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Ohio Senate proposes changes to legalized marijuana

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(The Center Square) – Less than two days from recreational marijuana use becoming legal in Ohio, lawmakers want to make some changes.

Senate Republicans added the changes to a bill that passed the House in June and would revise some of the state’s liquor laws.

Now, House Bill 86 would ban homegrown marijuana, allow municipalities to ban the opening of dispensaries, increase the tax, remove money from a proposed addiction fund, lower potency, and ban public and outdoor use.

That comes after voters approved by 57% a constitutional amendment in November that legalizes recreational marijuana, including a 10% marijuana tax on top of current state and local sales taxes, which experts have said could amount to more than $200 million annually. The law earmarks that money for administrative costs, addiction treatment and municipalities with dispensaries.

It legalizes the growing, manufacturing and sale of marijuana for recreational use for those 21 and older. It also limits the number of plants per person to 12.

The recreational marijuana question appeared as an initiated statute, which means the governor cannot veto it, but lawmakers could modify the law after the election.

The issue takes effect 30 days following the election, which would be Thursday.

Democratic lawmakers are critical of the proposed changes, saying they do not follow the will of Ohio voters.

“Voters spent months educating themselves and making a decision on whether they wanted adult-use marijuana in Ohio,” said Sen. Bill DeMora, D-Columbus. “The drafters were able to use other states as a guide to what works and doesn’t work. The language may be tweaked, but to upend the will of the voters is unconscionable. Removing home grow and increasing taxes to a level that will only increase the illicit market or send Ohioans to the state up north is not good policy and pokes voters right in the eye.”

The amended bill has had three hearings in the Senate General Government Committee and another in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee but none have dealt with the proposed changes to legalized marijuana.

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