Medical Marijuana Issues that Have Arisen in Ohio as a Result of their New Program
When Ohio Governor John Kasich last month effectively legalized medical marijuana in Ohio with his signature, the state became the 25th in the United States to legalize an extensive medical cannabis program, according to a count by the National Conference of State Legislatures. With D.C., that is more than half of the jurisdictions in the US that have legalized medical marijuana.
With the big move in Ohio, nearly 175 million Americans will have quick access to medical marijuana – put differently, that is more than half the population of the United States. Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio, but patients should not expect to get it from dispensaries in Ohio anytime soon.
The bill lays out a number of steps, for the first time in Ohio history, to guide the establishment of a medical marijuana program of the state. The medical marijuana program is expected to be fully operational in about two years. The law could allow patients to use marijuana in vapor form for certain chronic conditions, but bar them from smoking it in the classic “Pipe,” “joint” or “bong” manner, as well as barring patients from growing it at home.
When the law comes into force, which could move as quickly as 90 days for the beginning stages, cities and counties will be able to ban dispensaries or to limit the number of dispensaries in any one area. This has become a fairly common provision and is the law in many of the “medical” states. Licensed growers, processors, dispensaries and testing laboratories could not be within 500 feet of schools, churches, public libraries, playgrounds, and parks. Employers can continue to drug testing to enforce and maintain drug-free workplaces, per federal law. Banks, whose services should be protected as they relate to marijuana-related entities, are immunized against criminal prosecution on the state level. Of course, the Federal problem of banning FDIC insured banks from dealing with businesses that involve Schedule I controlled substances still overshadows and blocks any meaningful banking transactions. Every year a bipartisan group of Senators pass a bill that would allow banks to be exempted from the aforementioned regulations in “medical” or even “legalized” states, and every year the Republican-controlled House refuses to vote on the bill. And so we have it. Washington.
The law could allow patients to use marijuana in vapor form for certain chronic conditions
Back to the Ohio program: A newly created Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee will assist in the development of regulations and recommendations. The governor and legislative leaders are to appoint people to the 14-member panel no later than 30 days after the bill date. The members; employers, labor, local police, health care providers, patients, agricultural workers, people in mental health treatment are to be involved in the process, along with people representing groups and workers involved in the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction. Others are a nurse, researcher, two practicing pharmacists and two practicing physicians. No more than six members can be of the same political party. The bill mandates the commission sunset after five years and 30 days. Reports should be submitted no more than one year after the effective date. Rules for the licensing of farmers must be promulgated a few months earlier than that. The legislation also stipulates that the medical marijuana program is to be fully operational within two years after the bill.
The Ohio Department of Commerce, State Medical Board and the Board of Pharmacy will all play a role. The Commerce Department will oversee the delivery of marijuana growers, processors and testing laboratories. The Pharmacy Board has licensed pharmacies involved and will register patients and their caregivers. They will set up a hotline to take questions from patients and caregivers. The Medical Board would issue licenses to physicians who recommend the treatment with medical marijuana.
Based upon the legislative passage of the medical marijuana program, the backers of a ballot initiative set to be voted on this November have withdrawn the measure. At long last, progress has made its way to Ohio. Let’s hope the program is successful and sick people get some of the valuable medicine they are so in need of.
The latest development
On 26 September 2016, the Ohio State MEdical Marijuana Board, described in detain above; dealt a blow to patients looking to begin accessing medication while the full regulations were being promulgated. Now it looks like patients in need will have to wait until the Board is finished with all of their work before they may lawfully access their medicine. This is yet another example of a State that isn’t familiar enough with what medical marijuana is, to the point where they will let people suffer while they get their act together. See: Another Child Dies Waiting for Access to Medical Marijuana in New York. Here is an excerpt from the Ohio article:
COLUMBUS — The State Medical Board of Ohio dealt a blow today to those who hoped they might be able to legally use medical marijuana before the state put its own system of growing and dispensing pot into place.
”A physician is not permitted to issue a state of Ohio approved written recommendation to use medical marijuana until the physician has obtained a certificate to recommend from the State Medical Board of Ohio,” the board advised Friday.
Such a written recommendation is necessary in order for a patient to be able to assert the “affirmative defense” provided under the new state law if the event a patient is caught in possession of cannabis before he or she can legally buy it from Ohio’s state-run system.
Update: 10 October 2016
A new panel is taking shape that will help guide Ohio agencies as they build a system of growing, testing, and dispensing marijuana for medical use.
The 14-member Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee — heavy on representation from central Ohio, including its chairman — will exist for five years to help the Ohio Pharmacy Board, State Medical Board, and Department of Commerce as those members create rules for a new medical cannabis industry.
The panel will be chaired by Curtis L. Passafume, Jr., of Hilliard near Columbus, vice president for pharmacy services at Ohio Health and a member of the state pharmacy board.
On the other hand, two days ago I published a post discussing the progress New York is making with their medical marijuana program. See: “The Expansion of the Medical Marijuana Program in New York.” One can only hope Ohio steps before too much damage is done.