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Recreational Marijuana Policy Looks Hazy Before Ohio Lawmakers Go on Winter Break

COLUMBUS — One week after recreational marijuana went into effect, Ohio lawmakers still haven’t agreed on the policies related to it. They are set to go on winter break, leaving proposed marijuana regulations hazy. Lawmakers are at a standstill.

“We want to make sure we get it right, instead of quickly,” state. Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) said.

The state Senate has passed legislation to address the new law. Sub. H.B. 86 is restrictive in comparison to the current law. It reduced home grow from 12 to six plants, decreased THC levels and raised taxes. It would essentially only allow someone to smoke at a private residence. It would also seemingly outlaw most vapes.

This isn’t what voters chose, Callender said, so he and House colleagues are blocking it from going into effect. One member standing behind him is House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill).

“Do you feel like the Senate version of the marijuana policy goes too far against the will of the people?” Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau asked the speaker.

“Well, we’re not gonna concur on it,” Stephens responded with a shrug and a smile.

Callender has his own bill, which is more similar to what voters chose. On the other side of the Statehouse, the senators are frustrated by the lack of movement.

“The governor made it clear that we wanted to send this over to them and I kind of thought that we were gonna try to get this resolved,” Senate President Matt Huffman said (R-Lima).

This does need to be done on a timeline, Huffman argued. He wants to get dispensaries open now, and his version would authorize medical shops to sell recreationally 90 days after the governor signs the bill. Right now, there is nowhere to buy recreational weed in the state. Issue 2 language authorizes the Department of Commerce to develop regulations and issue licenses. However, those licenses can’t be given until at least nine months after Nov. 7.

“We don’t want illegal sales — the black market if you will — to get a foothold,” Huffman added. “We’re going to make this immediately available instead of nine months.”

While the House is supportive of making marijuana available through the medical program, Stephens says it’s not that simple.

“You can’t snap your fingers and just make things just because we pass a bill,” the speaker said. “Physically what can actually happen with that, so that’s part of the consideration.”

The next time the Senate is scheduled to meet for session is Jan. 24. The House has a Jan. 10 session as needed (which means it will likely be canceled) but an actual session on Jan. 24. This means that marijuana policy will remain the same until then.

Source: News5 Cleveland