No, you can't legally smoke marijuana at your favorite Ohio beer garden. Here's why

State officials say Ohioans shouldn't smoke marijuana in public, even in places that allow outdoor tobacco smoking.
State officials say Ohioans shouldn't smoke marijuana in public, even in places that allow outdoor tobacco smoking.
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The first Ohio spring with legal recreational marijuana is upon us, but don't expect a cloud of haze over your favorite beer garden.

The state's new recreational marijuana law took effect late last year after voters approved Issue 2 on the November ballot. Ohioans 21 and older can now buy, possess and grow cannabis, although legal sales aren't expected until September at the earliest.

Much of the program remains in flux. The Division of Cannabis Control is setting rules to implement the initiated statute, which includes making license applications available to growers, processors and dispensaries by June. Gov. Mike DeWine and some state lawmakers wanted to change the law, but those conversations stalled and appear unlikely to resume any time soon.

Still, state officials have made one thing clear: Ohioans shouldn't smoke marijuana in public, even in places that allow outdoor tobacco smoking.

Here's what you need to know.

Can I smoke marijuana in public in Ohio?

No. Smoking marijuana falls under the state's smoking ban. That law prohibits people from smoking plant material in enclosed areas open to the public, with exceptions for outdoor patios, smoke shops and hotel rooms designated for smoking.

"The smoking ban in public places really is controlling," Jim Canepa, superintendent of the Division of Cannabis Control, told Cincinnati Edition last month. "Whether it's cannabis that is being smoked or cigarettes that are being smoked or cigars being smoked, there are places you can and cannot do that."

What are the rules for bars and restaurants?

That doesn't mean people can light up on the patio − or pop an edible at the bar, for that matter.

Bars and restaurants with liquor permits can't knowingly allow or facilitate the use of controlled substances, which includes marijuana. Permitholders who violate this rule could face an administrative fine, according to the Division of Liquor Control.

The agency sent guidance to businesses after a Columbus pizza place invited customers to use marijuana on its patio in December. After holding a few weekly events, GoreMade Pizza asked people to "partake ahead of time" instead of at the restaurant.

"One thing has been made clear. If we encourage the use of Marijuana on our pizza patio, we could lose our liquor license and face some hefty fines," GoreMade posted on Instagram.

Representatives for GoreMade declined to be interviewed.

What about places that don't have liquor permits?

The new law allows "any public place" to decide whether to allow or prohibit marijuana. It also says anyone who uses marijuana in public areas is guilty of a minor misdemeanor.

"It is left up to the property owner to determine how or whether to address cannabis consumption on their property," said Tom Haren, an attorney who worked on the campaign to pass Issue 2.

Division spokesman Jamie Crawford said businesses, when setting their policies, should remember that the law bans public use and doesn't change marijuana's classification as a controlled substance. One of DeWine's top priorities has been to clarify the statute's language around public consumption.

Haren said he expects specific policies to develop as the division's rules go into effect.

Has anyone gotten in trouble?

Despite the hiccup with GoreMade, the Division of Liquor Control hasn't issued any administrative citations for marijuana use on a liquor permit premises. Officials are separately investigating a state liquor store employee accused of illegally selling marijuana to customers.

A spokesman for the liquor division said he could not provide additional details or records about the ongoing investigation.

Haley BeMiller is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohio recreational marijuana law prevents smoking on bar patios