Recreational Marijuana in Ohio: Navigating a New Frontier of Policy and Regulation with Greg McIlvaine

Ohio Cannabis Control advisor Greg McIlvaine provided update on regulations for recreational marijuana in Ohio.

GSG recently hosted a virtual event for clients and associates with Greg McIlvaine, the Department of Commerce’s top policy advisor for Cannabis Control. Mr. McIlvaine has over 20 years of public policy experience and a proven track record of success. He provided a timely and informative presentation as we move into a new frontier of policy and regulation.


In November, Ohio voters elected to allow for recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 and over. The Ohio Department of Commerce created the Division of Cannabis Control to formulate and adopt policies to implement the ballot issue. In his leadership role, Mr. McIlvaine developed guidelines for medicinal marijuana and now, for recreational use in Ohio. 


He kicked off the conversation highlighting the Division’s top priority to ensure safety and regulation of both medical and non-medical cannabis. He went on to address a wide variety of topics ranging from navigating dual-use license applications for eligible entities, to compliance, packaging, and maintaining safety standards. He also discussed stakeholder engagement, the cannabis business as a whole and all the of businesses that touch it, including cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and testing laboratories.


Mr. McIlvaine answered a wide range of questions from GSG’s guests about how these new laws impact individuals and employers, including navigating employer rights, questions about excise tax and allocation of program funds, and a variety of regulatory concerns. 


In closing, Mr. McIlvaine shared that the recreational cannabis program is being rolled out in a relatively short timeframe and things are moving quickly. He suggested visiting the Division of Cannabis Control’s website for additional resources:


Division of Cannabis Control site


Non-Medical Cannabis FAQ


Program Update (monthly)


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Anne C. Sesler

Director of Public Affairs

Anne Sesler brings more than twenty years’ experience in public affairs consulting to Government Strategies Group. Anne works with local elected officials, state legislators, reporters and community leaders on behalf of corporate and non-profit clients developing community outreach and engagement strategies, conducts media relations, builds grassroots support for projects, and conducts communication with stakeholders and legislators.

Anne lends her public policy and political communication experience beyond GSG to her role as Vice Chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. Over the years, she’s offered political counsel to both state and local campaigns, including Preschool Promise, Ohio Jobs and Growth (the casino ballot initiative), United for Jobs and Ohio’s Future (Third Frontier), and many others. Anne lives in Mt. Lookout with her husband, Bryan.

Focus areas: 

  • Local government relations
  • Coalition building
  • Media relations and communications
  • Crisis communications

Driven by:

  • Making Cincinnati a better place for all

In the community:

  • Leadership Cincinnati Class 47
  • Cincinnati Planning Commission member
  • Lunken Airport Oversight and Advisory Board Chair
  • Cincinnati Democratic Committee Co-Chair
  • Hamilton County Democratic Party, Vice Chair
  • Mt. Lookout Community Council member

Charles “Chip” Gerhardt

President & CEO

Chip Gerhardt has made government affairs, economic development, and issue advocacy his life’s work. He’s worked for decades in the public and private sectors, and advocated at the local, state, and federal levels of government. In 2007, he used that experience to found Government Strategies Group, a full-service government relations firm. At GSG, he works directly with clients, helping them navigate the complicated intersection of politics, public policy, and business.

In his many years in public policy, Chip has been involved in significant policies including; creation of tax increment financing districts, the Clean Ohio program, Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation, and most importantly, the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. He has also been at the forefront of some of the biggest developments in Greater Cincinnati, including the Horseshoe (now Hard Rock) Casino, TQL Stadium for FC Cincinnati, parking garage structures at The Banks, and the redevelopment of the @580 building. Rarely is there a public policy endeavor in Cincinnati that does not involve GSG.

Chip received his B.B.A in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame and his Juris Doctor from the St. Louis University School of Law. He lives in Anderson Township with his wife Jane. Son Charlie is a local chef and children Hank and Anne have completed their education and started lives of their own.

Focus areas:

  • State and local government relations
  • Economic development
  • Issue advocacy

Driven by:

  • A lifelong interest in the political system has driven Chip to a career in public policy and politics. As a parent of three, one with Down syndrome, has compelled him to promote public policies designed to help others. Whether it is enabling financial independence for people with disabilities, advancing funding for housing families facing homelessness, or assisting with economic development projects, Chip involves himself in things that make a positive difference. 

In the community:

  • Hamilton County Board of Elections member
  • Current Board Member for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, People Working Cooperatively, Corporation for Findlay Market, goVibrant, and the African American Chamber of Commerce
  • Former Chairman of the Board for the National Down Syndrome Society
  • Former board member of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce, and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati
  • Cincinnati Magazine’s 300 of the Region’s Most Powerful Business Leaders, 2021-2022
  • Cincy Magazine Power 100, 2011-2022