While recreational cannabis usage remains federally illegal in the USA, many states have passed laws making either (or both) medicinal and recreational weed consumption legal. Ohio is one of those states, but the exact wording of the laws can be confusing, as can understanding what is legally permitted and what is not concerning the possession and use of weed in Ohio.

In today's article, we are going to dive deep into the world of cannabis legality in Ohio, and answer the following questions:

  • Is medicinal cannabis legal in Ohio?
  • Is the recreational use of weed allowed?
  • What are the laws surrounding possession and cultivation?

Let's get into it. But before we do, a quick history lesson.

The History Of Marijuana In Ohio

First becoming an official state of the USA in 1800 when the Northwest Territory was divided, Ohio has had a long and complicated relationship with cannabis. In 1931, Ohio was among the first states to make marijuana illegal, with the rest of the country (and large swathes of the Western world) following in quick succession. Cannabis possession, usage, and distribution remained highly illegal all the way up until 1975.

While the mid-70s brought change, it did not bring full legalization. In late August 1975, Governor James Rhodes signed a bill that essentially decriminalized the possession of up to 100 grams of dried weed, and heavily reduced the punishment for people caught with of more than 100 grams but less than 200 grams.

2015 saw a failed ballot attempt to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, with the vote failing by quite a significant margin (65–35). This was followed up in 2016 by a successful push for medicinal marijuana, with Governor John Kasich signing the bill into law in June of that year.

No, not yet. But there is hope on the horizon for Ohioan cannabis enthusiasts.

2022 brought with it another push for full recreational legality, but unfortunately, this effort was shelved thanks to a technicality that could have prevented it from appearing on the ballot. The signatures that were already collected for this bill push were allowed to be rolled over and will be used in the 2023 ballot, so here's hoping we see recreational cannabis in Ohio this year sometime.

Do You Need A Medical Marijuana Card In Ohio?

Medicinal weed came into effect in 2016. There is a wide range of medical issues that will qualify you to become a legal medicinal cannabis user, but the process is more involved than just wandering into your local dispensary and complaining about a sore back.

How Do You Get A Medical Marijuana License In Ohio?

First up, you must be suffering from one of the 25 qualifying conditions for a doctor to even consider prescribing medicinal cannabis. This list may grow in the future.

If you have been diagnosed with one of the 25 health conditions, you then need to

  • Be above the age of 18, or have an assigned caregiver who is at least 21 years of age
  • Be an Ohio resident with proof of residency
  • Collect all the supporting documents (ie. medical records) to verify that you are indeed suffering from a qualifying condition.
  • Meet with a certified medical marijuana doctor who will evaluate your condition and issue a recommendation if he/she feels it is necessary.
  • This recommendation will serve as a secondary form of proof that you are an approved medical cannabis patient in Ohio.
  • The doctor will contact the State Board of Pharmacy who will process your recommendation and add you to the Patient Registry
  • You will then receive an email containing a link to download your registry card which you will be able to use at any state-licensed dispensary. The fee for your card is $50, although that may be halved for "patients who qualify for disabilities, social security or supplemental income (SSI/SSDI), or veteran status."

And that's it! Receiving a medical marijuana card in Ohio is a straightforward and easy-to-understand process, and once you have received your card, you may legally purchase medicinal cannabis from any state-licensed dispensary.

They certainly are, as long as you hold a valid medical marijuana card. You can purchase edibles from any state-licensed dispensary, along with many other forms of medicinal marijuana.

Can You Lose Your Job For Smoking Weed In Ohio?

Now this is an interesting one. Before we get into the laws surrounding workplace drug testing in Ohio, we need to talk about the actual act of smoking weed.

Weirdly, smoking any form of dried cannabis flower remains illegal, no matter if you have a medical card or not. The actual act of smoking itself is still a criminal offense in Ohio, and you could be charged with a misdemeanor if caught doing so.

That being said, almost all other forms of consumption are legal for medical card holders.

So, can you lose your job by smoking weed in Ohio?

Yes, of course, you can.

Despite the fact that medicinal marijuana is legal in Ohio, employers are still within their rights to terminate or refuse to hire employees who fail drug tests. And the fact that you can be charged with a misdemeanor for simply smoking weed instead of vaping it or taking edibles does not help your case.

What Is The Law On Possession And Growing Weed In Ohio?

As we mentioned earlier, cannabis possession was decriminalized back in 1975.

People caught carrying less than one hundred grams of marijuana will generally receive a $150 fine. People found to be in possession of more than one hundred grams, but less than two hundred grams will face the possibility of minor jail time. Once the quantity rises above two hundred grams, you're looking at the possibility of a felony charge.

Medical card holders are permitted to hold up to "only as much as a 90-day supply".

As for growing weed, this is an area that remains heavily regulated by the state of Ohio.

Private cultivation is totally illegal, with heavy punishments in place for anyone found to be growing cannabis plants.

Only certain state-licensed cultivators are allowed to grow marijuana in Ohio.

You can also face charges if you are caught in possession of anything that is counted as paraphernalia. This list includes items used for the purpose of growing, harvesting, processing, storing, selling, or using everybody's favorite plant. Penalties for being caught with paraphernalia include the possibility of a $150 fine or a driving license suspension of up to 5 years.

We remain hopeful that the upcoming 2023 bill will be successful in bringing legal recreational cannabis to the people of Ohio and wait with excited anticipation to see what the outcome will be. Until then, we urge Ohioans to remain informed and abide by the current laws surrounding cannabis use in their state.


While the use of recreational cannabis remains illegal in Ohio, there are plenty of opportunities for those suffering from qualifying medical conditions to gain access to medicinal marijuana. After meeting with a certified doctor and obtaining your medical card, you can legally buy cannabis products from state-licensed dispensaries.

It is important to remain aware of the laws surrounding possession, consumption, and growing weed, and to always act with caution when it comes to cannabis. We hope that in the near future, Ohioans will be able to enjoy recreational cannabis in a safe and regulated environment, and free from the stigma that still surrounds it today.

Until then, remain informed and enjoy the many benefits of medical marijuana safely and responsibly!