Wednesday, October 26, 2016
The title of this post is the headline of this new article from my own Columbus Dispatch. Here are excerpts:
Can you legally buy medical marijuana in Ohio? If so, can you get it from a licensed medical marijuana dispensary, family member or friend, drug dealer or grow it yourself?
You would think the answers to these questions would be simple and straightforward under the letter of the law. Not so much.
Technically, medical marijuana has been legal in Ohio since a new law, House Bill 523, took effect Sept. 8. But as of yet — and probably not until 2018 — patients in Ohio cannot legally buy marijuana for medical purposes.
Before that happens, the complicated, time-consuming job of drafting rules, policies, certifications, licenses and many other things must be completed. Rules don’t have to be in place, by law, until next year. Only after rules go through two state oversight agencies can cultivators begin growing marijuana crops, with processing, lab testing and sales through licensed dispensaries to follow. Advocates have pressed the board to allow physicians to utilize an “affirmative defense” clause in the statue, essentially offering legal protection against prosecution if physicians recommend medical marijuana for a patient prior to it being available here.
Robert Giacalone, a medical board member, said the agency “is in no way prohibiting the recommendation of medical marijuana now that HB523 is effective.” But he added there is “ conflicting language” in the law because of a provision prohibiting physicians from recommending marijuana until Ohio rules are written and the product is grown and sold in the state. “If any physician wishes to recommend medical marijuana before the rules are in place, we strongly recommend that they contact a private attorney,” Giaclone said at a board meeting last Wednesday.
Rob Ryan, head of Ohio Patient Network, an advocacy group, said, “There is no doubt in my mind that people with qualifying conditions should be able to get medical marijuana in Ohio.” Ryan said he knows some physicians are recommending marijuana but, like patients, they are being very cautious. Asked where patients can get marijuana if they have a physician’s recommendation, Ryan said, “it might be growing in your backyard or basement, from a family member or friend, or a dealer as a last resort. I’d be very careful going out of state.”
Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, which advises the medical board, concludes it would be “very difficult” to legally obtain marijuana in Ohio at this time. “Everybody knows there’s significant lead time built into this statute,” DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said. “We don’t have the specific rules in place at the medical board or the pharmacy board.”...
The delays and moratoriums are seen as chipping away at the law by Savannah Smith of the Ohio Rights Group, an advocacy organization. “It’s extremely frustrating,” Smith said. “The sick, dying and disabled of Ohio are our most vulnerable. They are medical refugees. “We had hoped this law would provide some real relief for the population that we’ve been fighting for for years.”