Illustration by Zoe Cranfill.

Illustration by Zoe Cranfill.

Explaining Ohio Issues 1 and 2

Published November 2, 2023

Explaining Ohio Issues 1 and 2

Explaining Ohio Issues 1 and 2 in anticipation of Election Day

By Sophia Rooksberry | The Beat

Whether you voted early, sent your decisions via mail or are planning to head to the polls on Election Day in Ohio, it is important to understand the issues on the ballot. The two issues that will be voted on this November have been highly anticipated, with Ohio Issue 1 concerning reproductive rights and Ohio Issue 2 concerning the legalization of marijuana.

The current state of abortion law in Ohio is as follows: a woman can have an abortion up to 21 weeks and six days into pregnancy. Ohio Issue 1 would amend that policy to allow people to carry out and make their own reproductive decisions, including decisions about abortion, fertility, miscarriage and contraception.

Although the amendment would still allow the restriction of abortion after fetal viability, which according to the Ohio Attorney General is defined as “the point in a pregnancy when, in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician, the fetus has a significant likelihood of survival outside the uterus with reasonable measures,” unless an abortion “is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health,” it would still be a vital addition to the abortion rights of Ohioans.

Ohio Issue 1 is officially referred to as the “Right to Make Reproductive Decisions Including Abortion Initiative,” and if the amendment does not pass, it will be up to the state courts to decide the future of abortion rights in Ohio. If the issue is passed, the official text of the amendment determines that “the State shall not, directly or indirectly, burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against” those who take charge of their own reproductive health.

One must be familiar with the difference between decriminalization and legalization in order to understand the impact of Ohio Issue 2. Decriminalization of marijuana means that anyone charged with a certain amount of possession will not face arrest or a criminal record, though it does not necessarily negate any accompanying fines. In 1975, Ohio became one of 10 states to follow suit after Oregon became the first state to decriminalize marijuana in 1973.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Ohio on Sept. 8, 2016, which allows people with certain medical conditions to purchase and use medical marijuana, with the approval of an Ohio-licensed physician.

Voting in favor of Ohio Issue 2 in the upcoming election would legalize marijuana for anyone over the age of 21 to utilize recreationally or medically within a private setting. Officially titled the “Marijuana Legalization Initiative,” the issue would allow people of age to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates, as well as the ability to grow up to six marijuana plants at home. That mandate also permits households to collectively cultivate up to 12 plants.

If Ohio Issue 2 is passed, a new organization called the Division of Cannabis Control would regulate and license marijuana operators in the state. The issue would also put into effect a 10% tax on marijuana sales, which would be put toward a program that supports individuals who have been disproportionately affected by past marijuana-related law enforcement.

The ratification of Issue 2 would make Ohio the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana, and would thus alter the numbers so that 52.56% of Americans would be living in a state where recreational marijuana has been legalized, as opposed to the current 49.07%.

If both of these landmark issues are passed, they will be go into effect 30 days after the election. No matter which way you choose to vote, an understanding of both issues and participation in the democratic system is vital for the continuation of a just society.

AUTHOR: Sophia Rooksberry

EDITOR: Grace Koennecke

COPY EDITOR: Addie Hedges