A national group based out of Washington D.C. called the Marijuana Policy Project is working with Ohio affiliate, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, to bring forth yet another plan to legalize marijuana in the Buckeye State. They are gathering the signatures of registered voters to secure a place on November’s ballot for their proposed changes to Ohio marijuana laws.
Details of the Proposed Revisions
The initiative puts forward changes that are very similar to laws in the other 23 states that have legalized medical marijuana. Patients holding medical marijuana cards, which will be given through the approval of a doctor, will be allowed to purchase marijuana products from licensed and regulated dispensaries across Ohio.
Cancer, glaucoma, immune deficiencies, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, AIDS, post-traumatic stress syndrome, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis are amongst the many chronic and debilitating illnesses that will render patients eligible for a medical marijuana card. This is estimated to include approximately 215,000 people. Card holders will be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use and they will likewise be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces. Growing locations must be enclosed and not publicly viewable. These policy changes would come into effect in 2018 while allowing patients to begin applying for cards in August 2017.
How Ohio Marijuana Legalization Failed Before
There was a much-publicized unsuccessful attempt made only one year ago to legalize marijuana in Ohio by the group ResponsibleOhio. Critics on both sides of the fence cited numerous issues with their proposal, including the attempt to enforce that only 10 marijuana producers would be able to sell, thereby dominating the marketplace. They also tried to pass full recreational legalization instead of just the medical legalization of marijuana; an ambitious move that likely also hurt their initiative.
“After election day, the idea of working in Ohio wasn’t really on the radar, but voters in all states make a distinction between medical marijuana and full legalization of marijuana. It’s pretty clear the initiative last year in Ohio failed…because it was for full legalization and not medical marijuana, it chose winners and losers, and was in an off-year election when turnout is lower and older,” explains Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.
Ohio Marijuana Laws & Restrictions Under the New Bill
For those who are looking to grow, distribute, and sell marijuana products, limited licenses will be available under the newly proposed bill. There will be 15 licenses available for large commercial growers who have approximately 9 acres of plants. These licenses will cost $500,000.00 each. All other medium sized growers would need to pay $5,000.00 per license. These prices would help to keep the cost lower for those with a medical marijuana card, who would pay a $40.00 annual fee.
“Because (business fees and patient ID card fees) combined must pay for the administration of the entire medical marijuana program, we need a lot of money to flow into the program quickly, in order to pay for its administration sooner rather than later,” Kampia points out.
Public opinion polls show that most Ohioans are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, so it seems to be only a matter of time before the Ohio marijuana laws change. With the Marijuana Policy Project behind the initiative now a spot on the November ballot is likely.