Weed Is Now Legal in Nearly Half the U.S. as Ohio Becomes 24th State to Support Recreational Marijuana

Fifty-seven percent of Ohio voters approved the measure, which allows adults 21 or older to legally buy, possess and grow cannabis

<p> Leon Neal/AFP via Getty</p> A cannabis plant

Leon Neal/AFP via Getty

A cannabis plant

Weed is now legal in nearly half the country after Ohio became the 24th state to legalize marijuana following Tuesday's election.

Ohio voters approved Issue 2, a referendum which allows adults 21 or older to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home, according to Politico. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2016.

“Marijuana is no longer a controversial issue,” Tom Haren, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, said in a statement, according to The Washington Post. “Ohioans demonstrated this by passing State Issue 2 in a landslide. Ohioans are being extremely clear on the future they want for our state: adult-use marijuana legal and regulated.”

With the addition of Ohio, 53% of the U.S. population now lives in a state where adults can legally use weed. Minnesota and Delaware also legalized recreational marijuana use this year.

Related: Ohio Voters Approve State Constitutional Amendment to Ensure Abortion Access

Many conservative Ohio lawmakers were staunchly opposed to the referendum, including Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

The approved measure creates the Division of Cannabis Control within Ohio's Department of Commerce to regulate the market. In addition, a 10% tax will be imposed on all cannabis purchases. Those funds will be allocated to addiction treatment, social equity and jobs programs and administrative costs.

A 2023 Ohio State University report projects that legal marijuana will generate about $350 million in annual tax revenue for the state.

Related: 5 States Voted on Legalizing Marijuana on Election Day 2022: What You Need to Know

Because the measure is a citizen-initiated statute, it is subject to change, according to Politico. Republicans legislators opposed to the law can amend or even repeal it. However, strong voter support for the measure — 57% of Ohio voters approved it on Tuesday — might deter lawmakers from attempting to repeal.

According to the Associated Press, Republican Senate President Matt Huffman said he would look to target "questionable language" in Issue 2 regarding limits on THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana.

“This statute was written by the marijuana industry and should not be treated as a cash grab for their cash crop at the expense of a state trying to emerge from the opioid epidemic,” Huffman told the outlet in a text sent by his spokesperson.

Ohio voters previously rejected a ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana in 2015. If the new measure is enacted as written, legal marijuana sales in Ohio will commence by the end of 2024.

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Read the original article on People.