Governor Race in Ohio: Where Richard Cordray and Mike DeWine Stand on Marijuana Legalization

Here we take a look at what the two major candidates think about marijuana legalization.

While Republicans have held a firm grip on the Ohio governor’s office for all but four of the past 28 years, this year’s race between gubernatorial hopefuls Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine is one of the closest in the nation.

Right now, marijuana is legal in Ohio for medicinal purposes only. The next governor can either boost or hinder a medical marijuana program that has struggled to get rolling after two years. Additionally, with recreational marijuana legalization expected to head to the ballot in 2019, the next governor will decide how and if a voter-approved initiative is implemented.

Cordray and DeWine disagree on legalization of marijuana. Here’s a look at where the two candidates stand.

Richard Cordray (D)

  • Recreational Marijuana Legalization: Says he would support recreational marijuana legalization in Ohio
  • Medical Marijuana Legalization: Supports voters’ rights to legalize medical marijuana

Richard Cordray, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Ohio, initially was evasive when asked about his personal thoughts on marijuana legalization.

A former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Cordray at first would only commit to respecting Ohio voters’ decision whether to legalize recreational and medical marijuana or not.

Only recently did Cordray share his personal stance on cannabis. When challenged by DeWine on his views in a recent debate, Cordray shared that he would vote in favor of a statewide initiative to legalize recreational marijuana.

“When it goes to the ballot I will cast my vote yes to legalize it,” he said.

Cordray also confirmed that he would implement a recreational marijuana initiative if voters approved it.

Responding to DeWine’s claims that legalization has been bad for states like Colorado, Cordray said, “Marijuana has been legalized in numerous states now and they’re working through these issues.”

Cordray has also vowed to improve Ohio’s struggling medical marijuana program.

A spokesperson for Cordray earlier this year told Marijuana Moment, “As Governor, Rich Cordray will fix the botched implementation of Ohio’s medical marijuana program to ensure that patients have access to the medicine they need in a safe and affordable manner.”

Mike DeWine (R)

  • Recreational Marijuana Legalization: Opposes recreational marijuana legalization
  • Medical Marijuana Legalization: Has suggested he supports use of medical cannabis for limited purposes

Ohio’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, Attorney General Mike DeWine, has made it clear that he is opposed to legalizing marijuana except for limited medical purposes.

While DeWine has been relatively quiet about his attitudes on medical marijuana, in past years he has acknowledged that it may hold therapeutic potential. Prior to Ohio lawmakers passing legislation to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, DeWine said he offered conditional support for medical marijuana while noting he wanted to wait and see the results of ongoing clinical trials.

DeWine’s stance on recreational marijuana is cut and dry.

When asked whether he would support an initiative to legalize cannabis if it were put before the state’s voters, he not only said he would be opposed to such a measure, but he also stated he would not implement it even if it were approved.

“I’m against it,” he said. “I will veto it.”

DeWine went on to claim that recreational marijuana legalization had been an “absolute disaster” in Colorado.

As Ohio Attorney General, DeWine in 2015 rejected a proposed amendment to the Ohio constitution that would allow the use of recreational marijuana to anyone 21 and over because the proposed petition summary did not match the amendment language. Earlier this year however, he approved a proposed recreational marijuana constitutional amendment after determining it was a “fair and truthful” summary of the measure. That is the ballot initiative expected to be presented to voters next year.

Marijuana in the Midterms

You can learn more about where marijuana is on the ballot in the upcoming November election, as well as discover more about where candidates stand on cannabis, by visiting our Election 2018 page.