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Ohio Senators Take Up Bill To Overhaul State’s Medical Marijuana Program As Advocates Pursue Adult-Use Legalization At Ballot

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“This program is dying. The numbers tell us this.”

By Nick Evans, Ohio Capital Journal

Ohio senators are trying once more to overhaul the state’s medical marijuana system. That effort stalled out last session after passing the Senate. Meanwhile, the bid to place adult, recreational use on the ballot has only gained steam in the interim.

Tuesday, the Ohio Senate’s General Government Committee heard proponent testimony.

A dying program

Speakers raised numerous concerns about Ohio’s existing medical marijuana program. Yousef Zafer brought broad scope of experience. He’s a marijuana patient himself, studying to be a pediatric neurosurgeon at Ohio State University. Zafer has also worked as a cannabis lab manager.

He told the committee the current system lacks competition and doesn’t include enough qualifying conditions. He argued the proposed overhaul makes strides on both issues.

“I know a lot of patients who venture up to Michigan to purchase their medical products because they’re cheaper and they’re usually higher quality, which is illegal,” Zafer said. “We need to keep Ohio patients in Ohio by offering those high quality products at a competitive price.”

Ted Bibart painted a stark picture of the current state of Ohio’s system.

“This program is dying. The

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Ohio Secretary Of State Forces County To Allow Local Marijuana Vote Despite Prosecutor’s Objection

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Ohio’s secretary of state has ordered a county election board to certify a local marijuana decriminalization initiative for the November ballot—meaning that three Ohio localities will be deciding on the reform at the same time voters across the state will have the chance to pass a full legalization measure.

Early voting for military and overseas voters began on Friday. And, on top of statewide legalization on the ballot, voters in the villages of Harbor View, Risingsun and Sugar Grove will also see local initiatives to decriminalize possession of up to 200 grams of cannabis for personal use. That’s a higher possession limit than what would be permitted under the statewide legalization initiative, which would allow adults to have up to 2.5 ounces (about 70 grams).

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) intervened to ensure that Harbor View would see decriminalization on the ballot after the Lucas County Board of Elections voted not to certify the activist-led cannabis measure in light of a local prosecutor’s concerns. After a review, he ordered the board to reverse its decision and qualify what is titled “The OG Wild Bill Marihuana Ordinance.”

Chad Thompson, executive director of the Sensible Movement Coalition (SMC) that has

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Marijuana Banking Bill Will Pass ‘Decisively’ Next Week, Senate Committee Chair Says As More Amendments Are Floated

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Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) says a bipartisan marijuana banking will pass “decisively” out of his panel next week, as senators discuss possible tweaks on its path to the floor and anti-drug advocates decry the reform as a public safety hazard.

The revised Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act that’s due for a committee markup next Wednesday might not enjoy the same level of support as other unrelated bills that recently moved out of the panel, but Brown told Ask a Pol’s Matt Laslo that he still expects a “strong majority” will approve it.

The chairman said he isn’t anticipating “many amendments” when it reaches the floor. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has committed to attaching changes related to state-level cannabis expungements and gun rights for medical cannabis patients—but beyond that, Brown said generally “there will be enough agreement that we will keep the bill together and make minor changes.”

NEW EXCLUSIVE:

Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown on SAFER Banking Act: “we’ll pass it decisively”#SAFEBanking #cannabisindustry https://t.co/g9P3nD6KuX pic.twitter.com/bYZZvoBBc0

— @askapol (@ask_a_pol) September 22, 2023

He did mention another possible amendment related to a “credit card bank issue,” but it’s unclear what he’s specifically

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Schumer Commits To Bring Newly Revised Marijuana Banking Bill To The Floor With Cannabis Expungements And Gun Rights Amendments

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reaffirmed his commitment to expeditiously advancing a revised marijuana banking bill—and he says he will also push to attach legislation on cannabis expungements and gun rights for medical marijuana patients.

One week before the Senate Banking Committee is set to vote on the amended Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act, which was formally filed on Wednesday, Schumer released a statement shared exclusively in advance with Marijuana Moment that touted the bipartisan agreement and previewed plans to further expand the bill.

“For too long, the federal government has continued to punish marijuana users and business owners—even when doing so is actively harmful to our country,” he said. “This ‘war on drugs’ has turned into a war on people and communities—specifically people and communities of color—and a war on business.”

“This agreement allows cannabis businesses that have traditionally operated in cash to finally have the opportunity to accept credit and debit cards, allowing them to grow their businesses, pay their employees, protect their customers and ensure public safety,” he said.

The majority leader added that he intends to bring the SAFER Banking Act to the floor “with all due speed,” and he said he’s

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