Gov. DeWine calls on legislators to modify recreational marijuana law before it goes into effect

By: - November 10, 2023 4:55 am

COLUMBUS, OH — JANUARY 31: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine during the State of the State Address, Jan. 31, 2023, in the House Chamber at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says he accepts that Ohioans have voted to legalize recreational marijuana, but is calling on legislators to make changes to the law before it goes into effect on Dec. 7.

“My recommendation to the General Assembly is that they take action to make sure that both rights are protected,” DeWine said Thursday morning to a group of reporters during his first remarks about Tuesday’s election.

“People have a right to smoke it. People have a right to consume it. But also that everybody else’s who doesn’t choose to do so is also protected with their rights as well.”

Leading up to the election, DeWine was a vocal critic of Issue 2, which legalizes and regulates the cultivation, manufacturing, testing and the sale of marijuana to Ohioans 21 and up

“We respect what the people have done,” DeWine said. “What the people have clearly told us is they want legal marijuana in Ohio. We are going to see that they have that. We’re also going to live up to our responsibility to all the people in the state of Ohio, whether they voted for it or voted against it.”

In doing so, he wants to make sure various protections are in place, starting with Ohio’s children. 

“One goal will be to make sure that they are protected from advertising in regard to marijuana,” DeWine said. “We want to do everything within our power to reduce the number of inadvertent consumption of gummy bears, cookies and other products that have marijuana.”

Last year, a 10-year-old Upper Arlington elementary student mistakenly brought her dad’s edible marijuana gummies to school and shared with them other students during lunch, thinking they were leftover Easter candy. After eating the gummies, the students became nauseous, experienced hallucinations and had elevated heart rates, so they were all taken to a local hospital for treatment.

“We have every responsibility to do everything we can to keep those (emergency room visits) numbers down as much as we can,” DeWine said.  

BUCKEYE LAKE, Ohio — AUGUST 17: A worker holds a tray of green apple marijuana edibles that will be packaged for medical sale, August 17, 2023, at the PharmaCann, Inc.’s cultivation and processing facility in Buckeye Lake, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal)
BUCKEYE LAKE, Ohio — AUGUST 17: A worker holds a tray of green apple marijuana edibles that will be packaged for medical sale, August 17, 2023, at the PharmaCann, Inc.’s cultivation and processing facility in Buckeye Lake, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

He said he also feels obligated to protect adults who don’t want to inhale or smell marijuana when they are walking around. 

“They make a choice not to use marijuana, they should be protected from being in a place where they have to deal with that,” he said.

DeWine also wants to reduce the number of drivers under the influence of marijuana. This was an issue the opposition group Protect Ohio Workers and Families harped on throughout election season — predicting Ohio would see an additional 48 fatal vehicle crashes and 2,298 more injury crashes if Issue 2 passed. 

Issue 2 is a citizen initiative, meaning Ohio lawmakers can make changes to the law — something DeWine hopes can happen by Dec. 7. 

“I would hope … that when Dec. 7 comes and goes that we will be able to inform the people of the state exactly how this program will roll out,” he said. “I think it would be good if that was all done by the 7th so that we’re not in a situation of taking something away from people.”

DeWine said he has a Monday morning meeting scheduled with Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, and Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman — two republicans who were quick to hint at making changes to Issue 2 after the race was called.

“Now is the time for the legislature to lead on how best to allocate tax revenues while responsibly regulating the industry,” Stephens said in a statement.

Huffman said lawmakers may clarify language “regarding  limits for THC and tax rates as well as other parts of the statute.”

Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on Twitter.

Reporter Nick Evans contributed to this story. 

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Megan Henry
Megan Henry

Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the past five years reporting in Ohio on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime. She previously worked at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.

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