Bob Hall

There’s a Marijuana Policy Project-backed campaign going on in Ohio to legalize medical cannabis, but lawmakers in The Buckeye State might just beat activists to the punch.

A bill unveiled in the Ohio House of Representatives today would legalize medical cannabis, bringing safe MMJ access to needy patients within two years’ time.

The law would grant the purchase of medicated edible products, patches, plant material and concentrated cannabis oils by approved patients who are 18 or older — for younger patients, parental permission would of course be required.

Home-grown cannabis is not an option as per the new proposal, and it currently remains unclear whether or not patients would be allowed to smoke their medicine.

If passed, the bill would establish a nine-member commission under the Ohio Department of Health that would oversee the rules for a medical marijuana industry. The commission would be granted one year to write the rules determining who would be allowed to grow, sell and prescribe cannabis.

The law places many restrictions on physicians that prescribe medical cannabis — doctors who choose to do so would have to update the state on the number of patients for whom they have recommended marijuana every 90 days, including a description of each patient’s condition and the doctor’s reasoning for recommending MMJ. One unique difference between most other states’ marijuana laws, however, is that lawmakers in Ohio are not deciding a list of conditions that qualify for medical cannabis. They are leaving that decision up to the doctors themselves.

The proposal also determines that MMJ will be offered via highly regulated dispensaries, and that individual localities could vote to ban such storefronts.

Banks dealing with medical marijuana retailers would be protected from prosecution — but as a state law, this allowance would not prevent federal authorities from cracking down. Instead, Ohio lawmakers would issue an official recommendation to the feds that marijuana be reduced from a Schedule 1 drug

Finally, lawmakers would also encourage MMJ research with state-sanctioned funding, but employers will still be allowed to ban employees from using medical marijuana — even if employees have the recommendation of a doctor.

For a more detailed analysis of the medical marijuana landscape in Ohio, see this Cincinnati.com report.

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