Although Ohio’s Governor, John Kasich, signed the state’s medical marijuana program into law on June 8th of 2016, it hasn’t been an easy road for medical patients to receive their medicine. So why is this the case? If the program was already signed into law over a year ago, what’s the big hold-up? Well, the Ohio Department of Commerce, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, and the Ohio Medical Board have been sorting out the rules of the medical marijuana law, which has taken much longer than Ohioans expected. Read on to find out what Ohio’s medical marijuana program will consist of, and why patients cannot smoke weed as medicine.
Background of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Program
Last year, Ohio state legislators introduced and put “HB 523” into law, which meant that Ohio joined more than 24 other U.S. states and Washington, D.C. on the marijuana legalization bandwagon. Although Ohio approved of medical marijuana, state officials expressed how strictly regulated the program will be, which immediately prompted concerns. Ohio state representative Kirk Schuring said of the state’s strict program, “It’s going to be framed in statute, and it’s going to have a lot of rules”, according to Clevescene.
Medical Patients Are Prohibited from Smoking Weed
But above all, one significant rule that has lots of Ohioans perplexed is the fact that medical patients cannot legally smoke weed. Instead, they can only consume the plant’s active cannabinoids through vaping and consuming tinctures, oils, edibles, and/or using patches. This rule is strange for a couple of reasons, but especially because medical marijuana patients can legally purchase marijuana in the form of flower, but they must promise to not smoke it when they get home, according to DaytonDailyNews. If patients cannot smoke weed, then the flower form of marijuana shouldn’t be sold at dispensaries, right?
If patients fail to abide by these rules, they can be smacked with illegal possession charges, according to Dayton Daily News. Many people may say it’s good that Ohio prohibits patients from smoking weed due to the possible adverse health effects linked to smoking; however, others may say that Ohio isn’t giving medical patients complete freedom to choose which specific consumption method they want to use.
Regardless, Ohio desperately needs new sources of revenue, and the operation of a medical marijuana program would do just that for them. However, these strict rules and regulations seem pretty extensive as compared to Illinois and Michigan’s medical marijuana programs, for example. Although Ohio is the 28th U.S. state to implement a medical marijuana program, their rules are strangely unique, to say the least.
Ohio Physicians’ Unwillingness to Recommend Medical Marijuana
Due to Ohio’s approval of a medical marijuana program in 2016, many people might assume that multiple physicians are onboard with recommending medical marijuana to their patients. However, that’s far from the truth. As stated in Clevescene, “According to a recent Columbus Business First article, fewer than three in ten Ohio physicians are interested in obtaining the license necessary to recommend medical marijuana for their patients.” This has left many Ohio residents unsure of where to get a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana.
For an individual to get approved for a medical marijuana card, they must qualify for one of the state’s approved medical conditions, register with the state, and then get a recommendation to use cannabis as a medicine from a qualified physician. If very few Ohio physicians are willing to recommend medical marijuana to patients, Ohioans are left with nowhere else to turn.
Michigan Saves the Day
According to Clevescene, many out-of-state dispensaries currently accept medical marijuana cards from Ohio, and lots of qualified Ohio patients are seeking medicine elsewhere including driving up north to Michigan. Surprisingly, by law, Ohio physicians can grant medicine to patients in need by sending them up to Michigan to purchase medicine. Unfortunately, many patients and physicians are unaware of this detail, but it’s legal, and several Ohio medical patients have already done this. Specifically, the holistic health center in Toledo has done this, and they may continue to do so until Ohio state officials sort everything out with their medical marijuana program.
The Future of Ohio Medical Marijuana:
Overall, Ohio plans on issuing 24 licenses for strictly regulated growing facilities, and most of those licenses will likely go to huge multi-state companies, according to Dayton Daily News. Nonetheless, Ohio is working on licensing 40 processors that’ll make different oils, tinctures, patches, and edibles in addition to licensing 60 dispensaries. Although Ohio’s medical marijuana program is still undergoing changes, it should be completely up and running by September of 2018, according to Clevescene. Stay tuned to see if Ohio stays true to their timeline, and what changes will take place within the next year.
To learn more about Ohio’s medical marijuana program, read the article below:
Interested in getting your medicine in Michigan? Inform yourself on their marijuana laws by reading the article below:
Article by: Nicole Skrobin