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Ohio senators want to overhaul legal marijuana law OK'd by voters, ax home grow

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Ohio lawmakers want to eliminate growing marijuana at home, increase the tax rate and change who gets the money from the state's new legal marijuana program, according to a draft bill.

Senators plan to add these changes to House Bill 86, an unrelated piece of legislation changing liquor policy, on Monday morning. A full Senate vote is expected as soon as Wednesday.

The overhaul comes after Ohio voters approved legal marijuana in a 57-43% vote last month. Sen. Bill DeMora, D-Columbus, said the proposed changes go against the will of the voters.

Among the proposed changes:

  • Eliminate growing marijuana at home. Issue 2 allows six plants per person and 12 per household.

  • Increase the tax on legal marijuana from 10% to 15%.

  • Change how tax revenue would be spent. About 45% would go to Ohio's general revenue fund for state operations, 30% to law enforcement training, 15% for a substance abuse prevention and treatment fund and 10% for a safe drivers program.

  • Reduce the levels of THC, the substance responsible for the drug's effects. Under Issue 2, regulators must set a maximum amount of THC allowed in products, and that number must be at least 35% for plant material and 90% for extracts. Senators want to reduce that to 25% for plants and 50% for extracts.

  • Marijuana could only be smoked or consumed in private residences.

  • Ban products shaped like bears, cartoons or fruit.

It's not clear if these proposals have enough support in both chambers to take effect before Issue 2 does on Thursday. DeMora said he hopes the committee will be open to changes.

“The voters passed this overwhelmingly in both rural and urban counties," he said. Under the new proposals, “it’s a shell of what was passed.”

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