Issue 2 details remain uncertain


By Matt Clevenger

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PIQUA — Ohio voters have approved recreational marijuana under State Issue 2, but local law enforcement officers and dispensary owners say many areas of the new law still need clarification before changes start to take effect on Thursday, Dec. 7.

“I think there are a lot of areas of the legislation that will need cleaned up and cleared up,” Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said. “I anticipate that the state legislature will get involved to make the clarifications that are needed.”

“We are waiting on guidance from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the county prosecutor,” Duchak said. “There are a lot of variables with the legislation that have yet to be addressed.”

“We are working with our law director and hope to receive guidance from the state,” Troy Police Chief Shawn McKinney said. “With any major change, we will provide training to our officers so they understand what is allowed and not allowed under the new laws.”

Local dispensary owners are also unsure about exactly how the state will proceed.

“It’s a whole new chapter moving forward for us,” Brian Wingfield, co-owner of the Ohio Cannabis Company dispensary in Piqua said. “If everything goes absolutely 100% perfect without any hiccups along the way, the law will go into effect on Dec. 7.”

“From there, the Department of Commerce has nine months to put together all the rules that we’ll abide by,” he said. “The rumor I’m hearing is that September is when things will switch over, and we’ll be allowed to sell and people will be allowed to buy but until then; no selling, and no buying.”

Ohioans will be allowed to possess up to 2.5-ounces of plant material or up to 15-grams of extracted material, such as oils and waxes, Wingfield said. Other details surrounding the changes are still unclear, including rules for mail-order or delivery, OVI testing, possession of marijuana paraphernalia and smoking in public places.

“My quick review of the legislation is that it is not permitted to be smoked in public settings,” Duchak said. “Basically, if you can’t have an open container of alcohol in an area, you would not be permitted to smoke marijuana in that area either.”

“Marijuana is still illegal federally,” he said. “Interstate orders of marijuana will still be prohibited under federal law. Legal delivery will have to occur from dispensaries within the state.”

Medical marijuana prescriptions will continue, Wingfield said, and the Ohio Cannabis Company will become a dual-license facility serving recreational and medical marijuana patients.

“They’ll be able to sell to the medical patients, and they’ll be able to sell to the recreational patients,” Wingfield said. “I think we’ll find that a few of the recreational patients will be medical patients who just don’t want to go through the process of meeting up with the doctor, and paying the state the $50 to buy a card.”

The Ohio Cannabis Company opened in June, Wingfield said, and currently serves several thousand local medical marijuana patients. The company also plans to add employees and expand its hours after Issue 2 goes into effect.

“Thousands of patients have come through our doors,” he said. “My guess is that we’ll probably expand our hours, and expanding our hours will give us the ability for more employees.”

“There’s going to be an influx of training needing to happen as we ramp up to this,” he said. “I could really see us needing to have a few extra employees start learning, and figuring out our upcoming policies and procedures for a new part of the industry.”

Wingfield estimates that approximately $1 million in tax revenue will be generated by Miami County dispensaries each year after Issue 2 goes into effect.

“In 2025, Miami County dispensaries will bring in more than $1 million,” he said. “Over $1 million in taxes will be collected in Miami County, but that includes the sales tax and the cannabis tax too.”

“People have seen how this plant material has been helpful to individuals and has improved their lives,” he said. “A lot of people are seeing it’s not as scary as it was once made out to be.”

Local law enforcement organizations and officials are not as optimistic about the effects of Issue 2’s passage.

“The Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association, State Fraternal Order of Police and the Ohio Police Chiefs’ Association were all against state Issue 2,” Duchak said. “I anticipate we will see an increase in fatal and injury crashes in Ohio, based on other states who have legalized.”

Deputies are also against the changes, Duchak said.

“The few I have spoken to about it were not in favor,” he said. “Our concerns are based on other states’ experience with legalization that saw increases in fatal and injury crashes and our youth having much more exposure to marijuana because of chewables, edibles, etc. Additionally, the THC levels are much higher than they use to be in the past.”

The Troy Police Department issued 122 citations for marijuana possession in 2022, McKinney said.

“I would also add that since marijuana is still illegal federally, you cannot own or possess firearms if you are a marijuana user,” Duchak said.

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