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Bob Hall

In an historic vote, the Ohio House has approved a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in a 71-26 vote, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer report. It was the first time members of the GOP-controlled House had a serious and impassioned discussion about the plausibility of marijuana being medicinal.

“I am absolutely convinced that there is therapeutic value in medical marijuana,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Stephen Huffman (R-District 80). “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.”

The proposal — though likely to face further tweaks before earning the Senate’s approval — could still make it to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s desk by the end of the month. Gov. Kasich said he would sign a medical marijuana bill if it was well-written and there was a recognizable need.

Unfortunately, the law is more strict than medical cannabis advocates would have liked. Patients would not be allowed to smoke cannabis, and would instead vaporize or consume orally their medicine. There would also be a 35% potency cap for THC in plants and flower products, and a 70% potency cap for concentrated products. There are also concerns over strict limitations placed on doctors that many fear will deter the medical industry from embracing the new law.

“Very few doctors will be willing to enter into a system that doesn’t trust them to make decisions that are in the best interest of their patients and ties their hands with regulatory red tape,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana.

“[W]e are not going to let the passage of a bad bill deter us … The bottom line is that this bill will not provide patients with access to medical marijuana. We are going to continue to move forward with a plan that provides access to medical marijuana for thousands of Ohioans with serious debilitating illnesses.”

There are two ballot initiatives underway in Ohio that would establish a more robust medical marijuana program via amendments to the state constitution.

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