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Republican rep who supports legal marijuana in Ohio has his own plan to implement Issue 2

Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord), a supporter of legalized marijuana, talks to reporters about his own plan to implement the new marijuana initiative approved by voters in November 2023.
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
Ohio House Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord), a supporter of legalized marijuana, talks to reporters about his own plan to implement the new marijuana initiative approved by voters in November, 2023.

There’s a new bill in the Ohio House to implement the marijuana law voters approved in November. This bill is sponsored by a Republican lawmaker who has been a longtime supporter of legal cannabis. And the bill doesn’t make as many changes to the voter-approved initiative as some other proposals.

Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) said his bill would keep much of the voter-approved provisions intact.

“I want to make sure that here in this chamber, the People’s House, that we carry out the will of the people and the people have spoken,” Callender said.

But Callender said his bill addresses some concerns from legal marijuana opponents that he thinks are legitimate.

“I want to respect those who have been opposed to this issue from the get-go. They have brought up some valid points that I think we can address and remain in the spirit of what the people passed,” Callender said.

What the bill does

  • Aligns with Ohio’s ban on smoking in public places so pot could not be smoked in any place that currently prohibits tobacco
  • Limits advertising so that it does not market the products to children
  • Adds a 10% tax on marijuana cultivators as well as the 10% tax on retail sales
  • Keeps a home grow provision that allows up to six plants per person or 12 maximum in a household but contains what Callender calls “guardrails” to ban mini-pot farms

Callender said his bill does not change the THC allowed in products. And he said the proposal represents “middle ground” on key issues. Callender said it’s important for lawmakers to keep two concerns in mind: that Ohio’s plan needs to be reasonable and attractive so Ohioans don’t continue to go to Michigan to buy cannabis, and the law needs to be significant enough to tamp down the illegal market.
Can lawmakers reach consensus on a plan soon?

One house bill on pot is more restrictive, allowing communities to ban marijuana sales. And the senate is debating its own bill that makes big changes to Issue 2, including banning home growing of plants.

That bill got more than three hours of testimony Tuesday afternoon.

Advocates, industry members and medical customers—like Anthony Riley—cautioned that they believed some of the bill’s regulations could send Ohioans to illicit markets or out of state.

“We’re trying to do this the Ohio way. We already lost in football. Why do we have to lose in cannabis?” Riley said.

Several billboard and advertising associations also took issue with strict restrictions on ads.

Callender said he can’t support the senate bill. But he said there is bipartisan support for his plan—though so far, no Democrats have signed on.

For his part, Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) doesn’t have much to say about the marijuana proposals right now.

“There are a lot of different ideas that are going on about it and we’ll continue the discussion,” he said as he walked with reporters in a Statehouse hallway.

Issue 2, the newly passed marijuana law, goes into effect Thursday, Dec. 7. Callender said he doesn’t think his implementation plan, or any other under consideration, could be put into effect before then.

Contact Jo Ingles at