Weed In Ohio: Ohioans know It’s Coming, Poll says, And They’re OK About It

Photo Credit: Nicholas Belton

Ohioans know that the Buckeye State is about to launch a medical marijuana program, a new poll shows – and they’re OK with it.

The survey of 500 likely midterm-election voters reveals a major change in attitude toward marijuana in just three years. In 2015, Ohio voters turned down a full legalization initiative by a 2-1 margin.

But a new Enquirer/Suffolk University poll found that 55 percent of respondents support the opening of a medical-marijuana dispensary in their neighborhoods.

Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they are aware that Ohio now has a medical-marijuana program.

The result was especially eye-opening since nearly a dozen jurisdictions just in Greater Cincinnati — including West Chester, Liberty Township, Sharonville, Blue Ash, Colerain Township and Fairfield — have banned all medical marijuana businesses.

Nearly half of the respondents said they were not likely to use medical marijuana to treat their ailments – but 36 percent said they were at least somewhat likely to explore marijuana as medicine.

The poll of 500 likely midterm election voters in Ohio was conducted June 6-11 by mobile cell and landline phones. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percentage points.

The poll also found Democrat Richard Cordray leading Republican Mike DeWine in the governor’s race and incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown handily leading Republican Jim Renacci.

Marijuana is a relatively new topic on the Ohio political landscape. For nearly 20 years, the Ohio General Assembly resisted any attempt to propose legislation to create a medical marijuana program in the state.

The 2015 measure known as Issue 3 would have established full legalization in the Ohio Constitution.

But on the night that the initiative was defeated, Ohio lawmakers promised to take up proposals for a program.

The legislature eventually created a structure for the state to regulate and tax medical marijuana, and various state agencies now are hammering out details to set up the industry with 25 sanctioned growers, a limited number of processing facilities and at least 56 dispensaries across the state.

The program is set to open Sept. 8, although a raft of delays will prevent dispensaries from opening at that time because there won’t be enough Ohio-grown product to sell.

So far, the only two sites in Hamilton County approved for a dispensary so far are in Hartwell and Columbia Township.