The Ohio House and Senate ended their last scheduled sessions of the year last week without passing any marijuana legislation. 

Both chambers met Wednesday, but no weed bills were brought to the floor, which raises the question: how close are the House and Senate to agreeing on the marijuana legislation?  

“That’s tough to say,” Senate President Matt Huffman told reporters last Wednesday. “The provisions that we passed are things that we worked with on the governor which we showed to the House and we really just haven’t gotten much response.” 

The Ohio Senate passed House Bill 86 by a bipartisan vote which would increase the marijuana tax rate to 15%, limit home grow to six plants per household, change how the revenue is distributed, and add automatic expungement. 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine urged lawmakers to pass the bill so he can sign it into law, but the House hasn’t had the same sense of urgency.

“I’m disappointed that the House left without dealing with this,” DeWine told reporters Friday. “I’m not angry about it. I’m just concerned about the situation that we have.”

Marijuana is legal in Ohio, but there is currently nowhere to legally buy recreational weed. 

The current law gives the Ohio Department of Commerce the power to come up with regulations and issue licenses, but those can’t be doled out until at least nine months after Nov. 7 — meaning marijuana likely won’t be sold legally in Ohio until well into next year under, DeWine said. 

“There needs to be, I think, a sense of urgency,” DeWine said. 

HB 86 would speed up that timeline and Ohioans would be able to buy recreational marijuana at a dispensary as soon as the bill went into effect.

“Legal safe products should be available as soon as we can have it,” said Senate Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio, D-Lakewood. 

Huffman is concerned the marijuana legislation will continue to stall as the March 19 primaries loom. 

“I just fear it’s going to slip into April and beyond,” Huffman said. “There has to be some things in the bill that the House would agree to.”  

Antonio and Huffman said they would like to see a discussion between the House and the Senate to talk through various pieces of the legislation. 

“I do not know what the House wants and what they like and what they don’t like,” Huffman said. 

Ohio House 

Over in the House, Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, said that conversations on marijuana will continue and the chamber isn’t having trouble finding agreement on marijuana.

“It’s important to get it right. … It’s just a very complicated issue,” he told reporters. 

The three big pieces of the new marijuana law are where people can use cannabis, who will have licenses, and how will the revenue will be used, he said. 

“When you think about all three of those components, to do those quickly but also respecting what the will of the voter is, it’s not something that can be done very quickly in my opinion, but to be done correctly,” he said.

State Rep. Jamie Callender, R-Concord, introduced House Bill 354 last week that clarified some of Issue 2’s language. The bill would keep home grow the same under Issue 2 — six marijuana plants per individual and 12 per household, and clarified that home grow must take place at a residential address. 

Callender’s bill has had three hearings so far in the Ohio House Finance Committee.  

The House has an as needed session scheduled for Jan. 10 and an actual session on Jan. 24 The Senate is also scheduled to meet Jan. 24.

Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on Twitter.



 The Ohio House and Senate ended their last scheduled sessions of the year last week without passing any marijuana legislation. How close are they to a deal? “That’s tough to say,” Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman told reporters.  Read More