Ohio Medical Marijuana Legalization Process

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Next month medical marijuana will be officially made legal in the state of Ohio. This will mark the beginning of what looks like an approximately 2 year process of establishing an Ohio medical marijuana industry. The state has begun to release information describing what this process will be like. The governor will have to hire a 13-person advisory panel to work with the State Commerce Department, Medical Board and the Board of Pharmacy to finish writing the rules and regulations on how the herb will be allowed to be grown, processed and sold. Licenses will need to be approved, doctors will need to register, marijuana will need to be grown and processed and dispensaries will need to be opened and stocked. It seems clear that the infrastructure will take some time to organize although it seems that Ohio patients should be able to purchase their medical marijuana by September 2018.

A Highly Strict Legalization Bill

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House Bill 523 will not allow for the smoking of marijuana. 

The Ohio medical marijuana law, House Bill 523, was quickly pushed through the General Assembly and Gov. John Kasich signed it into law in order to stop a more liberal ballot which was backed by the Marijuana Policy Project. When House Bill 523 passed, the other ballot was dropped. The law is very restrictive, allowing only edibles, patches, oils, vaporizing, and tinctures. Smoking will not be allowed. There will be a highly regulated “seed to sale” system in place, monitoring the full life cycle of each plant, from its growth, manufacturing, testing and dispensing. Home growing will be illegal. All Ohio medical marijuana based businesses must be set up at least 500 feet from any school, library, church or playground.

Qualifying Conditions for Ohio Medical Marijuana

Patients or state registered caregivers of patients with 1 of 20 qualifying conditions will be allowed to receive a doctor’s recommendation for up to 90 days’ worth of medical marijuana. The qualifying conditions include: AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.

Cities Block Marijuana Businesses

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Some Ohio cities are already finding methods of blocking marijuana businesses.

The state law will make it possible for cities to refuse or limit the amount of marijuana based businesses allowed in their area. Some cities have chosen to delay marijuana business in their areas for now. Lakewood and Brooklyn passed 6 month moratoriums on allowing any cannabis related business to set up shop in their area. On top of this, Lakewood stopped the process for adjusting zoning and building laws that would permit them in the future. Brecksville and North Royalton are allegedly contemplating doing something similar. There is general concern about whether it will be local or state enforcement policing the businesses.

As with most change, an adjustment period will be needed in order to get the new system up and running to everyone’s satisfaction. Until then, as of September 8th, patients with a doctor’s note will be able to purchase medical marijuana from other states that sell to non-residents. For many, this means relief is coming soon.

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