On June 8, 2016, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed H.B. 523 into law. By doing so, Ohio becomes the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana. However, there are numerous important portions of the law that you must be aware of before it takes effect on September 8, 2016.
Under the law, a patient, on the recommendation of a physician, will be permitted to use medical marijuana to treat qualifying medical conditions. These conditions include AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s, cancer, CTE, Crohn’s, seizure disorders, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, IBS, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, and pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable. A physician must apply for permission to prescribe marijuana and will be required to complete continuing education in the use of medical marijuana. Patients and caregivers of those receiving medical marijuana must be registered with the Board of Pharmacy.
The medical marijuana program will be fully operational not later than two years after the effective date of the bill, September 8, 2016. In fact, dispensaries will not be set up for at least another year. The Department of Commerce, in conjunction with a 14-member bipartisan Advisory Committee have until May 2017 to determine rules and regulations for cultivators. However, patients will be provided legal protections (an affirmative defense for possession) beginning on September 8, 2016, with dispensaries to begin selling medical marijuana to patients by 2018.
It is important to note, under the law, individuals are not permitted to grow their own marijuana or smoke any marijuana. Instead, patients will be permitted to utilize marijuana through patches, some edibles, and vaporizing marijuana.
It is critical to note that medical marijuana, like all marijuana, is still illegal under federal laws. Further, employers may continue to establish and enforce policies prohibiting the use of marijuana by their employees. Just because medical marijuana is legal under the laws of Ohio does not mean that a person’s consumption of it is guaranteed without consequences.
This new law will continue to develop as the processes and procedures for the regulation and operation of medical marijuana businesses are established further by the State Medical Board, Board of Pharmacy, and Department of Commerce as they make additional recommendations for the medical marijuana program. The attorneys at Mazanec, Raskin and Ryder will keep you updated as additional guidance on medical marijuana cultivation, dispensing, and use becomes available.
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