Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has signed legislation legalizing medical marijuana in the state but patients shouldn’t expect access to the drug for at least two years, NBC41.com reports.
Under the law, patients with certain chronic ailments will be able to access medical cannabis, but they will not be able to smoke it or grow it for personal use. The measure creates a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee to develop regulations and make recommendations to the Department of Commerce, State Medical Board, and Board of Pharmacy, who will work together to oversee the program. The Department of Commerce will supervise cultivator, processing, and testing lab licensing; the Board of Pharmacy will certify dispensaries, register patients and caregivers and set up a hotline to answer questions, and the Medical Board will license physicians to participate in the program.
The 14-member advisory committee will be comprised of representatives from local law enforcement, agriculture, labor and employers, along with mental health and drug and alcohol treatment professionals.
“This is a joyous day for the thousands of Ohioans who will finally be able to safely access much-needed medicine,” Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana said in a report from The Hill. “We still have much work ahead of us to improve this imperfect law.”
The bill is far more restrictive than the one pushed by advocates as a ballot initiative. That measure would have allowed for marijuana to be smoked as a delivery method and for patients to grow their own. The passed version of the law will take effect in 90 days, and despite the two-year timeframe for the program’s launch the bill’s sponsor is optimistic that selected growers could begin cultivating next year.
“As soon as 16 months, you would have products tested and available,” said Sen. David Burke (R).
Ohio is the 25th state to legalize marijuana for medicinal use.
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