Adult-use cannabis laws still subject to change


By Matt Clevenger

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TROY — It’s been over a month since changes to state marijuana laws approved by voters under Issue 2 took effect on Dec. 7, 2023, and local law enforcement agencies have received only minimal guidance from the state on several key areas of new adult-use cannabis laws.

“We’re figuring things out, between ourselves and the county prosecutor’s office,” Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said. “The roll-out could have been a lot better than it was.”

“Better preparations should have been made to anticipate that the ballot initiative would pass,” he said.

“Our law director has provided guidance,” Troy Police Chief Shawn McKinney said. “However, lawyers across the state have brought up concerns with the wording enacted, which was written by organizers of the state ballot initiative, not the state government.”

“If the state legislature does not address those issues, it will be up to the courts, which may take years to decide,” McKinney said.

So far, the only guidance issued by the state has been a three-page PDF distributed to law enforcement agencies by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission on Dec. 15, 2023.

“That is the only communication from the state we have received,” Duchak said.

According to the PDF guide, permitted forms of adult-use cannabis include plant material and seeds, live plants, clones, extracts, drops, lozenges, oils, tinctures, edibles, patches, smoking or combustible product, vaporization of product, beverages, pills, capsules, suppositories, oral pouches, oral strips, oral and topical sprays, salves, lotions or similar cosmetic products, and inhalers.

Adults 21 years of age and over are permitted to possess up to 2.5 ounces of plant material or 15 grams of adult-use cannabis extracts, and cultivate up to six plants in their primary residence. The cultivation/growing of adult use cannabis must take place within a secured closet, room, greenhouse, or other enclosed area in or on the grounds of the residence that prevents access by individuals under age 21, and which is not visible from a public space.

A maximum of 12 plants are permitted in any single residence where two or more individuals over 21 years of age reside. Individuals can also transfer up to six cannabis plants to an adult use consumer, but the transfer must be without compensation and cannot be advertised or promoted to the public.

Possession and use of adult-use cannabis paraphernalia is also permitted, according to the PDF guide.

Adult-use cannabis users are prohibited from operating a vehicle, motor vehicle, streetcar, trackless trolley, bike, watercraft, or aircraft while under the influence of cannabis, or smoking, vaporizing, or using cannabis products in any of those vehicles.

“OVI (operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs) law still prohibits concentrations of marijuana in a person’s blood or urine above specified limits,” McKinney said.

Using adult-use cannabis in public spaces is not permitted, Duchak said.

“It is prohibited,” he said. “It is a minor misdemeanor violation.”

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and cannabis users are also prohibited from possessing or using firearms.

Additional changes to the new state laws are expected in the future, the PDF guide said.

“Because Issue 2 is an ‘initiated statute’ the General Assembly can amend it, which it might still do,” the guide said. “OPOTA continues to track any amendments that the General Assembly might make to these statutes, and will provide updates as necessary to address training needs for law enforcement.”

The Troy Police Department stopped issuing citations for marijuana possession and marijuana paraphernalia on Dec. 7, McKinney said.

“In the past month, the Troy Police Department has made three arrests for drug possession, as compared to 21 cases last year during the same time,” he said. “We have issued two citations for violations of the newly enacted laws, such as using adult use cannabis in public areas.”

Duchak said Miami County deputies have not issued any marijuana-related charges since Dec. 7.

“To date, I am not aware of any charges issued by deputies,” he said. “When the weather gets warmer, I anticipate we and the cities will field calls involving people smoking marijuana in public places.”

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