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DeWine weighs in on abortion, marijuana with Ohio election in rearview

Gov. Mike DeWine talking to members of the media on Nov. 9, 2023.
Sarah Donaldson
Statehouse News Bureau
Gov. Mike DeWine talking to members of the media on Nov. 9, 2023.

Gov. Mike DeWine weighed in Thursday on Issues 1 and 2 during his first public appearance after the passage of the statewide ballot measures, both of which he staunchly opposed.

“Let me first say, that in this country we accept the results of elections, and we certainly accept the results of Issue 1 in Ohio as well as Issue 2,” DeWine told reporters.

Abortion isn’t settled, DeWine says, but he isn’t asking for reversal

DeWine, a longtime opponent of abortion, said he still believes most Ohioans fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to the medical procedure. He sees the now-ratified amendment as going too far in one direction, but said he thinks many feel the same about abortion restrictions without exemptions for rape or incest. That includes the state’s six-week ban, which he signed in 2019.

“I think the majority of people looked at it as one or the other,” DeWine said. “People of the state will want to take a look at, once this goes into effect, they will have the opportunity to make a decision and to continue to judge how it is, in fact, working.”

The constitutional amendment doesn't immediately do away with laws on the books but sets a standard they are judged on—so that includes letting it play out through the legal processes.

As of now, DeWine said he is not asking legislative leaders to take direct action on the amendment, such as through a ballot initiative reversing it. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) proposed that possibility less than an hour after the race was called Tuesday night, while House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) said in a statement: “The legislature has multiple paths that we will explore to continue to protect innocent life. This is not the end of the conversation.”

Changes could come to adult-use recreational marijuana before effective date

Unlike Issue 1, voters ratified Issue 2 as an initiated statute, which means the legislature can and will likely have the last word on what becomes law.

“What the people have clearly told us is they want legal marijuana in Ohio. We are going to see that they have that,” DeWine said. But it won’t be without tweaks to the language of the statute voters passed by a 14-point margin Tuesday, he said, because he sees “a lot of holes” in the current text.

Although he would not directly comment on policy proposals yet, he highlighted some general goals for the legislature: regulating the packaging on edible products, limiting marijuana smoke in public places, and reducing driving under the influence.

DeWine is scheduled to meet Monday with Stephens and Huffman and is encouraging them to pass a package of changes in short order so that the public can see the details of the program’s rollout.

“I think it would be good if that was all done, and done by the 7th (of December), so that we're not in a situation of taking something away from people. We're not in a situation of telling them all for X number of days it’s going to be one thing, and then X number of days after that it’s going to be something else.”

Most provisions under Issue 2 take effect Dec. 7, although the Ohio Department of Commerce—which is set to oversee the state’s new program—has nine months after that to begin issuing licenses to dispensaries.

Sarah Donaldson covers government, policy, politics and elections for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. Contact her at
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