Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ohio Senate tweaks medical marijuana bill as reform efforts keep moving ahead swiftly

As reported in this local article, headlined "Ohio pharmacy board would run medical marijuana program under bill changes," the Ohio legislative process keep moving ahead swiftly as the state continue a path toward becoming the latest to enact significant medical marijuana reforms. Here are the details:

Patients would be allowed to use medical marijuana from other states while Ohio sets up its own program, under changes made to a bill moving quickly through the General Assembly.  House Bill 523 would allow people with certain medical conditions to buy and use marijuana with permission of an Ohio-licensed physician.  The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday made several changes to speed up the time line for establishing the program and increase patient participation in the process.

The biggest change made was moving the medical marijuana program from the Department of Commerce to the state Pharmacy Board.  Sen. Dave Burke, a Marysville Republican and pharmacist, said the board would begin licensing cultivators six months earlier than under the previous version of the bill.  Then the board would write rules for businesses that make marijuana products and retail dispensaries.

Burke said the bill has no written limit on who can participate; it maintains a requirement that minority business owners receive 15 percent of all marijuana business licenses.  "It's not the intent to have a monopoly but to have a market of equity and equal participation," Burke said....

Patients could obtain and use marijuana from other states before it's legally sold in Ohio without being arrested, if it was recommended by a doctor for a qualifying condition and not smoked.  Each dispensary would be under the control of a licensed pharmacist.

Doctors would not be required to specify dosage and delivery methods in their recommendations nor submit periodic reports about their recommendations.  Recommendations would be good for 90 days and doctors could renew them for three additional periods without seeing the patient....

A 12-member advisory board including a patient, caregiver, nurse, physicians, pharmacists and representatives from law enforcement, labor, and employers.  Some members would have to support medical marijuana use.

Alzheimer's disease and fibromyalgia would be added to the list of qualifying medical conditions.

Employers would have to prove employees violated a workplace anti-drug policy for the employee to lose unemployment or workers' compensation benefits, and employees could appeal similar to other controlled substances.

Two problems advocates have with the bill were not changed. Smoking marijuana is not allowed in the bill, but patients could inhale vaporized cannabis.  The bill does not allow people to grow their own marijuana.

The bill cleared the Ohio House last week with broad, bipartisan support, and has been fast-tracked for passage before lawmakers break for summer.

Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink


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