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Recreational marijuana legalization could be back on the table for Ohio

Marijuana Legalization Virginia
Posted at 5:11 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 17:56:17-04

State lawmakers have announced plans to introduce a bill that would regulate the sale of marijuana for recreational use.

Among supporters of the possible bill is Mayor John Cranley, who Tweeted his support earlier in July.

Economic experts say such a bill could help boost tax revenue in Ohio, impacting the Greater Cincinnati region, as well, as has been seen in other states that legalized and taxed recreational marijuana.

"I would say it would be somewhere upwards of $100 million that we would get through tax revenue," said Debashis Pal, an economics professor at the University of Cincinnati. "Given what we make out of alcohol and tobacco and what Colorado is making, I am confident we would male $100 million-plus."

Others are concerned that it would be a mistake to legalize recreational marijuana before the invention of monitoring devices that could accurately gauge the amount of the substance in a person's system.

"The officers don't have a tool to detect marijuana impairment in the field other than their observations," said Joe Suhre, owner of Suhre and Associates LLC, a DUI law firm. "We have the chemical testing issue...for marijuana, the most common way to test is a urine test and the legal limit is 35 milligrams of metabolite."

Detection of that metabolite does not necessarily mean the person tested was intoxicated or under the influence of marijuana when the test was administered, however, because marijuana can take a long time to clear someone's system, Suhre said.

"The metabolite itself means the body has processed it," said Suhre. "If you have legalized marijuana, whether it's recreational or medical, you have someone that has a prohibited amount of metabolite in their urine but have not consumed marijuana in days. But according to state law, are over the legal limit."

Past bills seeking to legalize recreational marijuana have not made it far in Ohio; introduced earlier this year, House Bill 210 would have allowed the cultivation of marijuana plants and the expungement of certain marijuana-related offenses, but the bill has yet to see a hearing.