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(The Center Square) – A second bill that would legalize recreational use of marijuana is expected to be introduced in the Ohio General Assembly, joining an outside group’s petition to force the Legislature to take up the issue.

Rep. Jamie Callender, R-Concord, has unveiled his plans for growth, processing, distribution and sales of marijuana, calling it a responsible and highly-regulated approach.

“Across Ohio and America, there is strong public support for responsible laws allowing those 21 and over to legally purchase and use marijuana and marijuana products,” Callender said at a news conference Tuesday. “It’s time that we think seriously about where our state will fit in this growing market and position ourselves for the best possible outcome. This proposal starts that conversation.”

The Ohio Adult-Use Act would extend the state’s current medical marijuana program to include nonmedical adult use; impose a 10% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products, earmarking the tax to the General Fund and to deal with chemical dependence and illegal drug trafficking.

The bill would establish controls on growing and distribution and prohibit discrimination against legal, adult-use marijuana. It also encourages Congress to pass introduced legislation that would deschedule marijuana and “recognize the Second Amendment rights of Ohioans who legally use cannabis products in Ohio.”

Eighteen other states have passed laws allowing recreational use of marijuana, and Callendar said federal debate on the issue puts the state in a position where it could be left out economically.

“Ohio should act quickly on this issue,” Callender said. “Failure to establish guardrails will put Ohio at a disadvantage economically and could jeopardize the safety Ohio’s adult users moving forward.”

The new legislation joins a Democrat-sponsored bill also calling for legalizing recreational marijuana use that was introduced over the summer.

That bill also includes at 10% tax on a marijuana retailer or microbusiness' gross marijuana sales receipts. The tax money would go to primary and secondary schools, roads and bridges repair and up to $20 million annually for clinical trials researching the effectiveness of marijuana in treating the medical conditions of veterans and preventing veteran suicide.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol also is in the process of gathering signatures to place proposed similar legislation before the General Assembly for a possible ballot initiative.

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.