Is Weed Legal in Ohio? Plus More Questions About Ohio Weed Laws & Ohio Marijuana Legalization
Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova
Is Marijuana Legal in Ohio?
Technically, the answer is no, recreational weed is not legal for use in Ohio, however several forms of medicinal marijuana have been made legal and are available for purchase at local Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries. In order to access a dispensary, you must have a medical marijuana card. Click here to apply for yours today!
Ohio Marijuana Legislation
The face of cannabis law is changing all across the United States with the legalization of medical marijuana leading many states to consider expanding their laws to recreational use. States have also begun decriminalizing cannabis to downgrade marijuana possession from a major crime to a mild infraction.
What are the laws regarding marijuana in Ohio? As of February 2023, Ohio currently has 663,843 active medical marijuana recommendations (patient approvals). For up to date numbers feel free to check Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program‘s numbers here.
Rapid growth is shifting the laws of Ohio. Ohio’s medical program grew 20% from 2021-2022, so many believe a recreational program could pass fairly easily. There’s even a ballot measure that could pass in 2023.
The laws governing cannabis can be confusing because there’s a distinct difference between cannabis legalization for medical use, recreational use, and decriminalization. If cannabis is legal for medical use and even in areas where it’s approved for recreational use there are still laws and specific regulations to be aware of…especially in Ohio.
This post will offer you a clearer picture of the cannabis laws in Ohio and how to navigate the space as well as where to look for changes.
How Do Cannabis Laws Work?
Laws governing cannabis can be confusing. If you’re facing new legislation in your area, a fresh medical marijuana card, or just want to get the lay of your legal land it’s important to understand what legalizing cannabis can mean to better understand the law in your area.
To those new to cannabis legalization, with medical marijuana, you require a prescription or medical marijuana card to acquire cannabis. The specifics can vary on the state level. Essentially, you need proof you’ve seen a doctor and are prescribed the use of cannabis to treat an approved illness or ailment in order to purchase cannabis products from a dispensary.
Some states dictate what conditions are approved for medical cannabis. You can find the full list of approved conditions in Ohio later in this article. If you want to apply for your medical marijuana card in Ohio check out how here.
Legal recreational cannabis is treated like alcohol or cigarettes. This often means someone checking your age and identification at a dispensary. This also can vary on the state level but it is helpful to understand how recreational cannabis is different from medical.
Ohio has not legalized recreational cannabis but it could be soon given the popularity and growth of its medical marijuana program.
Unlike legalization, there’s also decriminalization which can sound similar but is different from a legal standpoint. Decriminalization downgrades the crime of possession for personal use from a felony to a misdemeanor. Rather than facing heavy jail time you likely would only receive a small fee or community service.
Part of the push for decriminalization across the US has been that many arrests have been found to be racially motivated or problematically prosecuted. A 2013 report by the ACLU found black people were 4.1 times more likely than caucasians to be arrested for marijuana possession in Ohio.
These are the three ways that cannabis can be legalized. However, since this often happens on the state level, there are also additional laws and regulations. For example, in Ohio, the growth of cannabis plants and different ways to smoke weed are still prohibited under the law.
Is Weed Legal In Ohio?
Currently, cannabis is only legal for medical marijuana patients. Ohio signed legislation to legalize medical marijuana in 2016 and created the Medical Marijauna Control Program to regulate it. If you have specific questions you can reach out directly to this department by calling 1-833-4OH-MMCP (1-833-464-6627).
You can only receive a medical marijuana card in Ohio for specific conditions that are listed below. There are also laws governing how much a patient can purchase in 90 days. Ohio law permits the use of cannabis only in edible, oil, vapor, patch, tincture, or plant matter form. The smoking of cannabis is still illegal even for medical cannabis patients.
Recreational cannabis is not legal, yet but that may change. Certain laws are up for a vote in 2023 that may change that.
Cannabis possession has also been decriminalized. Under Ohio law, possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana is a “minor misdemeanor” which carries a maximum fine of $150. Possession of more than 100 grams but less than 200 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to thirty days in jail and a $250 fine.
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Ohio Weed Laws
Ohio’s cannabis legislation is nuanced and can be a bit confusing. Here’s a breakdown of the law as it stands so you can more fully understand it.
Cannabis is only legalized for medical use. You require an approved condition, a recommendation from your doctor, and medical documentation. A doctor can help provide you with the documentation to prove your condition.
Despite medical marijuana being legal it’s still illegal to sell and use cannabis that’s smoked. The medical marijuana that’s been legalized is strictly in the form of edibles, oils, and tinctures. You can purchase dried cannabis flower however smoking weed is still prohibited by law.
Ohio imposes 90-day supply restrictions. Patients are limited to 8 ounces of dried medical marijuana flower or the equivalent within any 3-month period. Your purchases are recorded and tracked as part of the state’s track-and-trace system, so every licensed dispensary can see how close you’re getting to your current limit.
If you’re curious about other weed laws that can affect Ohioans check out a list of other laws outlined here.
Ohio Medical Marijuana
In June of 2016, Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 523 to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio. Effective on September 8, 2016, the bill was approved by an 18-15 vote in the Ohio State Senate and by a 67-29 vote in the Ohio House of Representatives.
The law established a “state-run or licensed system of growing facilities, testing labs, physician certification, patient registration, processors, and retail dispensaries.” The Ohio Department of Commerce was charged with making the rules for cultivators and as the entire system became established Ohioans were able to purchase weed in Michigan or other states with legalized cannabis.
Is Medical Weed Legal In Ohio?
Currently, medical marijuana is legal in Ohio. It’s only available for people with approved conditions and a valid prescription or medical marijuana card. Here’s the list of approved medical marijuana conditions in Ohio.
What Conditions are Approved for Medical Marijuana in Ohio?
You are required to have a medical mairjuana card and only certain conditions are approved including:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Chronic Migraines
- Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
- Complex Region Pain Syndrome
- Crohn’s Disease
- Epilepsy Or Another Seizure Disorder
- Hepatitis C
- Huntington’s Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Pain That Is Either Chronic And Severe Or Intractable
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Positive Status For Hiv
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Spinal Cord Disease Or Injury
- Terminal Illness
- Tourette Syndrome
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Ulcerative Colitis
If you have an approved condition and your doctor decides cannabis is a good fit you’ll receive a prescription and receive a medical marijuana recommendation. Your physician will create a profile for you in the Ohio’s Patient & Caregiver Registry.
From there, you can complete your profile and use your medical marijuana recommendation to purchase cannabis at a licensed dispensary.
Currently, you can only purchase medical marijuana from an official Ohio dispensary. There are currently only 66 certificates of operation. You can find the full list of dispensaries here. There are also provisional dispensary licenses so the number of dispensaries could grow to over 130.
Ohio Recreational Weed
The history of recreational weed in Ohio is pretty interesting. In 2015, Issue 3, a ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis was proposed but failed to make it into law. This law would have legalized the use and sale of cannabis by people 21 and older. People over 21 could purchase 1 ounce (28 g) and the law allowed the commercial-scale cultivation of cannabis, and allowed people to grow cannabis plants if they had a $50 license.
The ballot measure was supported by an interesting group of investors including former pop star Nick Lachey, designer Nanette Lepore, NBA legend Oscar Robertson, NFL journeyman Frostee Rucker, a pair of President William Howard Taft’s great-great-grandnephews. This group would have become insanely wealthy given their initial stakes in the cultivation of cannabis. However, this measure did not pass.
The measure was criticized as it would have essentially created a monopoly of the Ohio cannabis industry. It was defeated by a 65-35 margin.
In January 2022, a new petition to legalize recreational cannabis was submitted with over 130,000 valid signatures to force the state legislature to consider the issue. In May 2022, the campaign announced it would put the signatures it received towards putting the proposal on the 2023 ballot.
Photo by cottonbro studio
Is Recreational Weed Legal In Ohio?
Currently recreational marijuana is illegal in Ohio, but medical marijuana is legal. Possession has been decriminalized. If you are caught in possession of less than 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces), it is considered a minor misdemeanor and you can face a $150 fine. Usually, minor misdemeanors do not become part of your criminal record.
There is an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis that will appear on the ballot in November 2023. The Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2023) is slated to appear on the ballot which could make recreational cannabis legal in Ohio.
Is THC Legal In Ohio?
THC is the main cannabinoid driving the illegality of cannabis. THC is what separates legal hemp from illegal cannabis on the federal level. That being said, THC is legal for medical marijuana patients with approved conditions.
Ohio instituted laws in support of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized what’s federally defined as hemp. This did legalize delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC cultivated from legal hemp. It’s important to understand that THC is strictly legal in medical marijuana or when cultivated from a legal hemp source.
Are Edibles Legal In Ohio?
Edibles are legal exclusively for medical patients. Cannabis smoking is not legal even for patients with approved medical marijuana cards so that may confuse people about Ohio law. Edibles are legal but only for approved patients.
Given their current laws, if recreational cannabis gets approved in Ohio it may legalize edibles in Ohio. After November 2023, time will tell if recreational cannabis gets legalized in Ohio making edibles legal.
Times are shifting and cannabis legislation is carving out interesting new policies in areas like Ohio. Ohio has approved medical cannabis for approved patients as well as key steps to getting your medical prescription approval.
Recreational cannabis is still up for discussion and only time will tell. Given the decriminalization of cannabis, you can possess cannabis and not exactly face jail time. It’s important to understand the nuances of Ohio cannabis law to better navigate the space and ensure you follow the letter of the law.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Anand Dugar, an anesthesiologist, pain medicine physician and the founder of Green Health Docs. Graduating from medical school in 2004 and residency in 2008, Dr. Dugar has been a licensed physician for almost 20 years and has been leading the push for medical cannabis nationwide.