Issue 2 Passed: What Now?

Critical Safeguards

The tragic mistakes made by states that have previously enacted legal recreational use must not be repeated. These guardrails offer a shortened description of policies designed to protect kids and the public from an unscrupulous industry. THC is a drug, and a potentially dangerous one.  It must be treated as a drug regulated by the Board of Pharmacy and its sales provisions enforced by local health authorities.

Youth and Family Protection

Civil Action by Parents: The parent or guardian of a minor child or ward under age 21 for whom they have financial responsibility may bring a civil action against any person who illegally provides marijuana products to that child based on the negative effects of those products on the child.

Under 21 Medical Requires Prescription: Medical marijuana may not be provided to a person under the age of 21 without an in-person evaluation and specific written prescription signed by a certified health practitioner for a limited quantity similar to the way Schedule II drugs are treated in Ohio.

Diversion Reduction of Medical Marijuana: In order to reduce drug diversion and illegal redistribution, the type and quantity of medical marijuana products available shall be carefully limited by the Board of Pharmacy.

Flavor & Color Prohibition“Edibles” or electronic “vapor” or other smoked or inhaled products may not be produced or marketed to include ingredients producing bright colors or highly sweetened or child enticing flavor such as chocolate, fruit-flavors, mint, etc., or be confused with normal foods such as chips or soft drinks.  THC infused beverages as well as powders, liquids or gels that may be used to make a THC infused beverage are prohibited.

Strict Enforcement of Age 21

Twenty-one only: No one may sell or provide marijuana to any person under the age of 21. Any person handling or selling marijuana products must be over age 21..

Age 21 in Establishment: No persons under 21 shall be allowed into an establishment selling marijuana.  All retailers must post state certified signage at all entrances: “Entry by Those Under Age 21 Is Prohibited by State Law”.

Point of Sale Signage: State certified signage stating, “Sales of Marijuana Products to Persons Under Age 21 is Prohibited by State Law”, shall be posted conspicuously at all points-of-sale.

Retailer Distance from Youth Facilities: No establishment providing public retail sales of recreational or medical marijuana may receive a license if it is within 1000 feet of a school, playground, library, athletic field or other areas frequented by those underage 21.

Required Transaction Scan: All sales transactions shall be in-person / face-to-face and shall require the seller to check ID using a state certified electronic scanning device regardless of the buyer’s apparent age. Web search engines or social media sites that link to or promote online illegal sales shall be subject to sanction and fines.

Underage Compliance Checks: The local health department shall conduct at minimum two annual underage compliance checks using persons 18-20 to attempt to purchase products. The results of these checks shall be published on the Ohio Department of Health website.

Research and Monitoring: In order to better understand long-term societal and individual effects of legal recreational marijuana, no less than 5% of net tax revenues accrued to the state from marijuana cultivation, production or sales shall be set aside to a “Marijuana Research Fund” used to provide academic grants to Ohio public colleges and universities to monitor youth and young adult use and addiction, employment effects and industry and retail legal compliance. Such institutions may not also receive other moneys that create a conflict of interest.

Product and Public Safety

Product Testing: Prior to marketing or sale, all products must be submitted for testing to a state certified lab to determine the level of THC and other possible cannabinoids, psychoactive drugs or contaminants.

THC Quantity: No individual product serving for ingestion or vape inhalation may exceed a threshold delivery of more than 5mg of THC.  All product servings must be physically separate, and no individual package may exceed 50mg of THC. “Flower” for smoking inhalation shall be limited to a potency not to exceed 10%.

Other Cannabinoids With the exception of cannabidiol (CBD) and regulated delta-9-THC, no other cannabinoids may be marketed, sold or provided.  Delta-8-THC  and synthetic cannabinoids are specifically prohibited.

Combined Drugs:  Products containing added psychoactive drugs including nicotine, caffeine and alcohol are prohibited.

SmokeFree Areas Marijuana may not be smoked or vaped in areas open to the public including hotel rooms, nor may it be smoked or vaped in places of employment.  This includes a prohibition against on-site consumption in retail facilities.

Packaging and Marketing

Plain PackagingAs is common with medications, all packaging shall include the name of the manufacturer and the distributor, expiration date and a full description of the product.  No logos, enticing brand names or brightly colored packaging are permitted.

Advertising: All marketing and advertising must be pre-approved by Board of Pharmacy to reduce exposure to those underage.  Outdoor and billboard, radio and television marketing is prohibited.  Event, venue and internet marketing must be strictly limited to venues and sites that reduce youth exposure.  Free sampling or reduced-price sales are prohibited.

Packaging with Warning Label All products shall be packaged in plain child-proof, opaque packaging preapproved by the Board of Pharmacy and must carry a prominent warning label, “This product contains delta-9-THC, a known risk to brain development.  For use by adults over 21.  Keep away from children and animals.  Marijuana impairs concentration and judgement. Do not drive or operate machinery under its influence.  Not safe in pregnancy or breast feeding.

Warning Labels: All advertising and marketing materials shall prominently feature a series of brief  rotating warning labels as approved by the Board of Pharmacy.  These will address the high risk of addiction, the dangers of impaired judgement, the risk of mental illness including psychosis, the risk of poisoning to children and the risks associated with youth usage.

State and Local Authority – Revocable Licensing

State Registration Required: All sellers must register and be certified by state authority and meet standards set by the Board of Pharmacy.

Local Authority: Consistent with Ohio Home Rule provisions, local elected authorities may adopt and enforce local ordinances regarding zoning, retailer density or land use, or completely prohibit operation of marijuana businesses.  Any amendment to those regulations shall go through a normal regulatory or legislative process with no required popular vote. Unincorporated areas shall be subject to State Health Department regulation, public health licensing and enforcement.

Health Department Licensure: Marijuana is primarily a health problem. All sellers must obtain a “Marijuana Retail License” from the local Health Department or Jurisdiction, pay an annual license fee set by the local health jurisdiction at an amount to cover the costs of enforcement, and abide by rules of sale enacted by that jurisdiction. 

Enforcement Action: For ongoing infractions, Health Departments shall implement civil penalties including license suspension or revocation.  Action against unlicensed establishments may be taken against owners or landlords of the property involved. 
Decriminalization: Possession of small amounts of products for individual use will remain decriminalized.

An example of more exact legal and policy language is available from the Public Health Institute document: Model Ordinance Regulating Local Cannabis Retail Sales and Marketing in California. While their model is designed to mitigate some of the more egregious sales and marketing practices in California, it is not as comprehensive as the list above.

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