Ohio Issue 2: Bars can face consequences for allowing weed use, even on patios

Ohio business advocates call for urgency, clarification from state leaders



Even now that marijuana possession is legal in Ohio, bars and restaurants with outdoor patios that allow patrons to smoke marijuana could face issues with their liquor licenses, according to state officials.

A spokesperson of the Ohio Department of Commerce, which oversees the state’s liquor control agency, told the Dayton Daily News Friday that marijuana is still considered a controlled substance and a “dangerous drug” under state law, and liquor licenses do not allow for the use of these kinds of substances.

Any liquor permit holder could be at risk of citations or even the loss of their license for openly allowing people on their property to use marijuana, according to the state commerce department.

Ohioans in November voted to legalize recreational marijuana for Ohioans age of 21 and over. That law went into effect on Thursday.

Ohio’s smoking ban prohibits people from lighting up in indoor public spaces and places of employment; Issue 2 falls under this law.

Smoking tobacco products is still allowed in outdoor public spaces, like patios owned by restaurants and bars. But state commerce officials clarified smoking marijuana is not.

The Dayton Daily News checked in with businesses that manage some of the most popular patio spaces in the Miami Valley.

Emily Mendenhall, co-owner of Lily’s Dayton, said she was happy to see Issue 2 pass and is hopeful it will be good for Ohioans.

As Issue 2 took effect, Lily’s Dayton trained its staff about the new law and was putting up signs on the business’ patio, asking guests not to smoke marijuana at their location.

Her family’s other business, Blind Bob’s on East Fifth Street, is following the same procedures with its outdoor seating.

The Ohio Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance declined to comment on guidance it can provide to restaurant owners, pointing to the ongoing work toward modifying recreational marijuana law.

Confusion exists among Ohio business owners and residents alike. Ohio Chamber of Commerce senior vice president of government affairs Rick Carfagna said the chamber hopes to provide information to businesses throughout the state regarding where Issue 2 stands in a free webinar.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce has recommended that Ohio follows the lead of Colorado, which made any public use of marijuana illegal. The chamber also hopes to see clarity come from lawmakers as soon as possible.

“There needs to be a sense of urgency with this,” he said.

For some eateries, like Little York Tavern and Pizza in Vandalia, nothing will change.

General manager Tom Heil said the tavern already asks its guests not to smoke marijuana on its patio. He doesn’t imagine the new law will create many hurdles for his business.

“It’ll really just be business as usual for us, unless it becomes a big issue with the guests,” he said. “Obviously that’s our main priority: how it affects the patrons here, one way or the other.”

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