Marijuana Bill Threatens to Ban Smoking for Ohioans

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Ohio lawmakers created some changes to their proposed medical marijuana bill this week. House Bill 523 is a detailed bill that outlines a medical marijuana plan for the state. The bill now specifies that medical marijuana cannot be smoked or consumed in edible forms that are attractive to children. There has also been limits placed on the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels allowed in medical products. THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that causes the high, but it’s also the element that reduces pain, decreases nausea and increases appetite. THC levels on the marijuana bill, must now be between 3 and 35 percent in plant products and no more than 70 percent in extracts.

A Stricter Marijuana Bill Proposal

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Under the new bill, smoking marijuana would be out but vaping would still be on the table.

Initially the bill allowed for doctors to decide on whether a patient could benefit from medical marijuana. The revised bill now only allows for 20 conditions to qualify for treatment. These conditions include PTSD, cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, sickle-cell anemia, traumatic brain injuries, and “pain that is chronic, severe, and intractable.” Despite smoking being banned, vaporization would be allowed. Doctors would have to register to be allowed to prescribe marijuana and they would have to say what kind of marijuana the patient should vape and what method the patient should use.

Doctors who register to be able to prescribe medical cannabis would have to complete more education credits on marijuana. Initially the bill required patients to return to the doctor every 90 days. The amended bill requires patients to have a follow up visit with the doctor after 90 days at which point the doctor can provide a recommendation that renews in 90 day periods for up to a year.

Protective Clauses

Some protective elements have also been included in the updated proposal. Medical marijuana use would not be allowed to be used against a parent, to revoke parental rights or implicate child abuse. Professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, would be allowed to conduct marijuana related services without legal consequence. Caregivers and parents would not be allowed to be arrested for giving children or patients medical marijuana. A toll free hotline would be available for those with questions about medical cannabis.

Additional Provisions

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These will still be illegal under the new bill.

Patients who have obtained medical marijuana cards in other states with similar laws to Ohio would be allowed to use their cards without incident. At least 15 percent of licenses for growers, processors, testers, and distributors would have to go to African American, Native American, Hispanic, or Asian business owners. All marijuana businesses would need to stay more than 1,000 feet away from schools, parks, playgrounds, and churches. The state would also set up a program to help veterans and poor people have access to medical marijuana.

This marijuana bill is separate from 2 other proposals that 2 separate groups (Ohioans for Medical Marijuana and Grassroots Ohioans) have put together. The groups are still collecting signatures in order to get them to appear on the November ballot. The House could vote on this bill as early as Tuesday and the Senate could pass this bill as early as the end of the month, before leaving for summer vacation. Between all 3 proposals being reviewed this year, it seems that Ohio is likely to legalize medical marijuana in 2016

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