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John Kasich, Ohio governor and former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, signed off on a plan to legalize medical marijuana in the state. But that doesn't mean state residents can spark one up in celebration just yet -- the plan won't take affect for at least a year and prohibits smoking weed or growing it at home.
So what, exactly, does the new law allow and how does it compare to medical marijuana laws in other states? Here's a look:
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that some of the regulatory details will be hashed out by the Ohio Department of Commerce, State Pharmacy Board, State Medical Board and "a yet to be appointed bipartisan advisory committee." For patients, they must have one of 20 qualifying conditions, including HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, chronic pain, Parkinson's disease, post traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury. And prescribing physicians must register with the state and complete continuing cannabis education.
As noted above, patients and/or caregivers growing their own marijuana and patients smoking dope are completely prohibited. (Qualifying patients can, however, inhale vaporized dope smoke, and consume edibles and oils.) While some medical marijuana states do permit smoking and limited home cannabis cultivation, Ohio lawmakers felt those features were too close to recreational marijuana use to get a medical use law passed.
Qualifying patients may start using medicinal marijuana sometime in September. But where will they get it? Ohio dispensaries are at least a year away -- state officials have until May 2017 to sort out rules for cultivators and until September 2017 to formulate regulations for dispensaries, testing labs, and marijuana-infused product processors.
As the Plain Dealer notes, "The law doesn't say where patients would get their marijuana before dispensaries are set up, but it's assumed they would get it from another state or Ohio's existing black market." Michigan is the only neighboring state with legal medical marijuana laws currently in place, but who knows whether a Buckeye State prescription will be accepted across state lines? And encouraging ailing patients to turn to illegal drug sales for their medicine doesn't seem like the best solution.
Hopefully, Ohio can finalize these and other details sooner rather than later. If you've got more questions about state or federal marijuana laws, you should contact an experienced local drug crime attorney today.
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