Ohio Votes on Marijuana Legalization Amidst Growing National Support

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Despite the federal illegality of marijuana, the majority of states have made it accessible for adults for medicinal or recreational purposes. Ohio is the latest state set to cast their votes on the subject on November 7.

A total of 38 states, along with Washington, D.C., have implemented comprehensive medical programs, grant approvals through legislative channels or the verdict of voters. The medical usage of the herb was recently endorsed by Kentucky’s Governor Andy Beshear in March, with the law set to become operational in 2025.

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The policy of permitting legal adult recreational use of marijuana has been enacted by twenty-three states, in addition to Washington D.C., with Minnesota implementing most recently in August.

Both categories of legalization— medicinal and recreational—reside in a legal gray zone. Regulatory and taxation policies vary between states. For instance, in Washington D.C., while Congress halted legal sales, possession persists as a lawful activity. However, sales remain illegal. On the other hand, a handful of states permit possessing small quantities for medicinal intent, albeit under very strict conditions, in the absence of comprehensive medical programs.

Since the inaugural legalization of medical cannabis by California in 1996, the legalization movement has gathered speed. Washington and Colorado kickstarted the approval of legal recreational use in 2012.

American support towards legal cannabis has amplified since, resulting in frequent discussions in legislatures. In 2022, President Joe Biden granted pardons to individuals prosecuted for simple possession under federal law, simultaneously ordering a re-evaluation of marijuana’s position as a Schedule I drug. Within the purview of federal law, Schedule I drugs are designated as substances without any valid medicinal uses.

It’s a dynamic situation, with the legal marijuana landscape continually evolving and this story will be refreshed as developments arise.