Although it feels like cannabis has been legal here in Colorado for ages (it has been four years, now), many states have difficulty navigating the green rush and trying to make sure that patients are ahead of profits in this lucrative industry. One of those states is Ohio, which legalized medical marijuana back in June of 2016. Ohio’s governor and former presidential hopeful John Kasich signed the legislation to allow a regulated cannabis program for Ohio that does not allow smoking marijuana or growing it for personal use. Ohio is also exploring a closed-loop payment system that will do away with cash-only dispensaries by providing a prepaid card that patients can use instead.
Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Laws
Kasich has been a waffler on cannabis regulation and legalization, and was against 2015’s recreational cannabis measure in Ohio, opposing it even for patients with intractable seizure disorders and other diseases. The new medical marijuana laws allow for an “affirmative defense” to stop prosecution of marijuana possession charges if patients have a doctor’s written permission for a marijuana prescription. The laws are dependent on the establishment of a medical marijuana regulation program that Ohio is still working on to date. The law would allow cannabis oils, patches, tinctures, edibles, and other plant materials to be sold in state-licensed dispensaries, as is the tradition in many U.S. states today. Ohio’s program must be running by June of 2018. Remember, recreational marijuana is still expressly illegal in Ohio, and carries stiff penalties.
Medical Conditions Treatable with Cannabis in Ohio
Once regulation is in place, people with the following conditions will be able to possess the cannabis products listed above in small amounts: HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Crohn’s disease, seizure disorders and epilepsy, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), multiple sclerosis (MS), pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.
Ohio’s Next Steps to Medical Cannabis
The outlook for Ohio is good – at least they’re not having the problems Maryland is having with its medical cannabis program. Ohio joins many other U.S. states in its quest to provide patients with the medical cannabis they need to avoid opiate addiction and costly pharmaceutical prescriptions, as well as treat their conditions at home and privately without constant doctor visits, testing, and the rest of the runaround. In Ohio, all doctors who want to prescribe medical cannabis must register with the state, and there are no dispensaries set up so obtaining cannabis on the black market or from another state will still be illegal even after the bill is filed. Also keep in mind that Ohio is an at-will state, meaning that cannabis use at work can and most likely will get you fired.
Ohio’s next move is to set out and define the dispensary and cultivation facility license requirements and application steps that businesses must go through in order to sell cannabis to medical patients. The Department of Commerce and a bipartisan advisory committee is working on this information and has until May of next year (2017) to figure it all out. If all goes well, the first legal Ohio cannabis seeds will be planted by summer of 2017. Ohio lawmakers do not plan to allow patients or recreational cannabis consumers to grow their own cannabis in the future – they are also against smoking marijuana because of the public health issues associated with nicotine cigarettes. Vaporized marijuana inhalation will be allowed in the Buckeye State, however. Ohio – you’re getting there!