What to know about Ohio’s new marijuana law, goes into effect Thursday

The Lantern
Ohio’s laws recognizing the use of medicinal marijuana are at odds with federal laws, leaving Ohio State and other public universities stuck between state and federal law. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Don’t light up on the Oval yet.

Issue 2, which passed with 57 percent of the vote, allows those 21 and over to buy, possess and grow cannabis starting Thursday. Still, students on campus are subject to federal laws and university policies, which both prohibit the possession or use of marijuana on Ohio State property.

“Possession and use of marijuana – even if obtained legally under Ohio law – is prohibited in or on all university-owned, operated or leased property,” an Ohio State release said. “This includes residence halls and other university housing facilities, offices, university-managed properties and all Wexner Medical Center facilities.”

Despite 24 states legalizing the drug, it remains illegal on the federal level, which supersedes these laws. Because Ohio State is a public university that receives federal funding, it is responsible for upholding these laws, along with the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act.

The act requires schools to prevent the use, sale, possession or distribution of illicit drugs on its property in addition to establishing a drug and alcohol abuse prevention program.

According to Ohio State’s policy , any faculty, staff or students who violate such drug laws or policies are subject to disciplinary procedures and referral to authorities. These actions can include “written warnings, loss of privileges, probation, participation in an alcohol or other drug assistance or rehabilitation program, suspension, and/or dismissal.”

University spokesperson Chris Booker said the main goal with policies is to “be educational and developmental, while still upholding the values and expectations that make our community extraordinary.”

“Our goal in these cases isn’t just to uphold university policy, but to support our students as they work to conform their behavior to both community expectations and all applicable local, state, and federal laws,” Booker said in an email. “Furthermore, we use the university’s conduct system to identify and address the particular needs of students experiencing (or at risk of developing) abuse and dependency issues.”

According to the release by the university, any changes to this policy will be communicated with the campus community, and university leaders will “continue to evaluate policies, monitor proposed legislative changes and determine if changes are needed to continue to comply with the law.”

Though some of these policies don’t apply off campus, students should still be aware that landlords are allowed to restrict the rights allowed by Issue 2 of those 21 and over to possess marijuana — up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or 15 grams of extract — or grow up to six plants for personal use.

Smoking marijuana in public also remains illegal, as does operating a vehicle under the influence.

Those looking to purchase marijuana might have a difficult time doing so legally, even with the law taking effect Thursday. Ohio will give licenses to approved dispensaries, and according to Ohio State’s release, this is not expected to be completed until the summer.

The law might see several changes in the future as an Ohio Senate committee tries to overhaul some parts, including the limit of plants people can grow at home and an increased tax on cannabis products.

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