Ohio looks set to become the 24th US state to legalise the cultivation and sale of recreational cannabis after the proposition won voter approval during elections this week.
A referendum, which formed part of the state election day on Tuesday, saw close to 56% of the electorate support legalisation.
Under current proposals adults aged 21 and older would be permitted to grow cannabis at home and possess and gift a maximum of 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of extract.
But law reformers face an anxious wait to see if the will of the people is upheld as Ohio’s Republican-controlled general assembly has the power to change or even repeal the legislation.
However, the latter possibility appears unlikely after Republican Ohio state representative Josh Williams, an opponent of legalisation, told a webinar last month that the voice of voters must be respected.
“Whether that is ill-advised or not is a different subject,” he added.
Legalisation in Ohio has been welcomed by US cannabis advocates who have experienced a mixed 12 months in their efforts to drive reform.
Last November, Maryland and Missouri voted yes to legalisation but North and South Dakota threw out similar proposals. Oklahoma followed the Dakotas in rejecting an end to prohibition in March, before Minnesota and Delaware gave adult cannabis use the green light.
The National Organisation for the reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said in a statement that legalisation is an issue that unites Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
“Ohioans have seen similar legalisation laws adopted in neighbouring states, and they know that regulating the cannabis market is preferable to the failed policy of prohibition,” NORML deputy director Paul Armentano said.
“It is imperative that elected officials respect the voters’ decision and implement this measure in a manner that is consistent with the sentiments of the majority of the electorate.”
Along with 24 states, Washington DC has also legalised adult use.