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Ohio House leaves marijuana users in limbo with weed policy

Ohio House lawmakers are puff, puff passing on dealing with marijuana policy until February, leaving marijuana enthusiasts in limbo.

Ohio’s new recreational marijuana law is now in effect, allowing adults 21 years of age and older to smoke. Under the law passed by voters, individual Ohioans would also be able to grow up to six plants, but up to 12 per household. Click here to learn more about what the law entails.

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“I’m a sickle cell warrior, and I believe that it’s provided a much better quality of life,” medical marijuana user Broderick Randle II said.

Having access to the drug changed Randle’s life — so much so that he now works for the cannabis processing facility Beneleaves.

“It’s very hard, even now, to get access to cannabis as an adult,” he added.

Even though marijuana is legal, Ohio law has no system set up yet for people to legally buy it. This is frustrating Gov. Mike DeWine.

“The black market will develop every day that goes on,” DeWine said during a press conference Friday.

Right now, there are no authorized sellers. The Division of Cannabis Control isn’t set to start processing retailer applications until June, which means users likely won’t be able to legally buy marijuana until late summer or early fall.

The state Senate agreed and passed a bill to make weed available in medical dispensaries if the proposed law takes effect. However, it would limit home grow, reduce THC levels, and ban the vast majority of vapes.

Republican state Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) said this isn’t what voters chose — so he and House leadership are blocking it.

“Limiting that is really in the face of a lot of the voters that voted for this,” Callender said.

DeWine isn’t happy with the House for a multitude of reasons. The representatives are coming back from their winter break early to try and override his veto of a transgender health care ban.

“This might be a good time to take up and deal again — something that they did not do — which is to deal with the marijuana issue,” DeWine said, cheekily.

Members of the House tell WEWS/OCJ that they are only coming back for this override vote and have no plans to deal with weed.

“We are still working on getting consensus on several areas,” Callender said. “Marijuana legislation is not currently scheduled for committee or floor action this week.”

Chamber vs. Chamber

Callender, the de-facto and seemingly bipartisan spokesperson for the House, continues to fight back against the pressure from the Senate and the governor to concur on the other chamber’s legislation.

“All of the interested parties are still actively discussing the outstanding issues,” Callender continued. “I wish it were going more quickly, but getting it right is more important than expedience.”

State Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Sen. President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) are having to negotiate with Callender and House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill), but the House claims to not be budging. It should be noted that Huffman and Stephens have a contentious-at-best relationship.

“Even for Cheech and Chong, that wouldn’t be for personal use,” Huffman said about growing 12 plants per household. “This would essentially create a black market for people to sell around their neighborhood or whatever it would be.”

McColley, the de-facto and seemingly bipartisan spokesperson for the Senate, assured his proposal wasn’t going against the will of the people, since he believes that the voters didn’t really know everything that they were voting on.

“I think what the voters really voted for would have been access to products,” the senator added.

Callender strongly disagreed.

“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,” the Republican lawmaker added.

Callender has his own bill, H.B. 354, that is similar to current law. It adds some safeguards for advertising and children, and Callender likes the idea of including immediate dispensary access as well.

After this week, the House won’t be back until February.

“At some point, we will just have to break out the peace pipe,” Callender said, acknowledging the double entendre.

Even though Randle’s business would profit if dispensaries could open for recreational use now, he agrees with Callender.

“I think it’s the people’s rights that people have voted for it,” he said.

People can wait a bit longer to buy marijuana so that the law follows the will of the voters, he added.