Ohio’s Cannabis Lobby Day, which took place October 13, along with an event meant to educate legislators and the general public about the need for medical cannabis patients’ rights, as well as the need for legalization and regulation of cannabis in the state.
Ohio Cannabis Live, a news and dispensary review organization is hosting the event for Lobby Day, taking place at Ohio’s State House Atrium from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For those who cannot make the event in person, the organization has allowed an additional option for virtual participation.
Representative Junita Brent of Cleveland and the Ohio Appalachian chapter of NORML will assist in the event. Brent recently addressed the lack of diversity, equity and inclusion in the process of opening new cannabis businesses.
Ohio recently announced they were looking to double the number of medical cannabis dispensaries in the state, adding an additional 73 licenses.The application process will run in November, and the licenses will likely be awarded next year.
The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program currently plans to release the licenses through the same process used previously, as opposed to addressing some of the ongoing problems, which Brent addressed.
“This lottery system is not enough, if we really want to deal with the racial disparities when it comes to ownership of licenses,” Representative Brent said last month. “Equity is the standard, not an option,” she added, also highlighting that of the 114 dispensary owners in Ohio, only nine are people of color.
In addition to the new licenses, those currently in the state’s medical industry are also requesting expansions, as they are capped at 3,000 square feet of grow space and say they are selling out of product too quickly. Last month, the Ohio Departmentof Commerce announced that cultivators in the state could start requesting permission to expand their grow space.
The state has a storied history with cannabis, dating back to 2016 when Ohio first legalized medical cannabis, though it took nearly three years for the state to open just four dispensaries, causing a problematic result for many patients across the state seeking medication.
While many jurisdictions across Ohio are looking to adopt laws to decriminalize cannabis possession and are putting it up to a vote this election cycle, Representatives Terrence Upchurch and Casey Weinstein began to circulate a draft memo to their colleagues to gather support and formally file a bill that would legalize cannabis in the state for adult use.
“The number of people who have been negatively affected by cannabis arrests in Ohio is astronomical. I’ve seen firsthand how the lives of good people have been upended for years because of pot convictions,” Upchurch said.
The bill would make it legal for adults 21 or older to “buy and possess up to five ounces of marijuana at a time and grow up to 12 mature plants for personal use.”
“We’re seeing there are dramatic economic benefits, there are medical benefits and there’s a strong criminal justice avenue here so we can focus law enforcement on violent crime,” Weinstein said after the bill was introduced. “Ohio is at the point where we’re going to be behind if we don’t act now. I hope this provides the spark that we need to elevate the conversation and get this legislation moving.”
Ohio’s Cannabis Lobby Day is operating in that same tradition, looking to act and educate now, especially as the cannabis boom continues to make its way through new corners of the country.
For more information on the event and to participate virtually, visit the Ohio Cannabis Lobby Day event page at Ohio Cannabis Live’s website.