Friday, January 13, 2023
In shadow of full legalization initiative, Ohio legislature again discussing broad expansion of medical marijuana program
Last year brought lots of chatter in the Buckeye State remarding marijuana reform, but not much legal reform actually was completed. A proposed ballot initiate for full legalization got bumped a year because of the timing of signature collection, and other bills proposing full legalization did not advance in the Ohio General Assembly. But there was some momentum behind a bill to significantly expand the state's medical marijuana program in the Ohio legislature in 2022, though that bill only passed one house of the legislature and so did not make it to Gov DeWine's desk.
But, as this local article details, these Ohio marijuana reform issues and possibilities are all already garnering attention early in 2023. Here are excerpts from the article with the key details:
A newly introduced Ohio Senate bill would create a 13-member medicinal cannabis oversight commission, as well as a new state agency, in hopes of being more responsive to the state’s medical marijuana industry and expand the diagnoses for which it could be prescribed.
Senate Bill 9 is similar to Senate Bill 261 from last legislative session in that they both are trying to update the state’s 6-year-old law that legalized medical marijuana in Ohio. However, the oversight board is new in SB 9.
Currently, the Ohio Department of Commerce, the State Medical Board of Ohio and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy oversee regulations and licensing in the marijuana program. “What we’ve found is that many of the growers want to expand and grow more,” said Sen. Stephen Huffman, who is sponsoring the bill with fellow Republican Sen. Kirk Schuring. “There’s more growers, there’s more demand. They put an application into the Department of Commerce, and it sits there for 18 months, two years. Hopefully this takes the bureaucracy out of this and streamlines things and make it a better-functioning industry.”
SB 9 comes as the legislature also must decide what to do about a recreational marijuana initiated statue proposal. The legislature has until May 3 to pass a law based on the proposal, backed by a group of medical marijuana licensees. If the General Assembly does nothing, which is likely as GOP leaders have said they’re not interested in the proposal, then the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol can collect signatures to get on the ballot for voters to decide the matter. The coalition believes it has wide support from Democrats and Republicans in Ohio.
Under SB 9, the Medical Marijuana Oversight Commission would oversee the Division of Marijuana Control. The Division of Marijuana Control would fall under the Ohio Department of Commerce....
SB 9 would allow medical marijuana for patients with autism spectrum disorder and opioid use disorder, in addition to conditions for which medical marijuana has already been approved. The new bill additionally allows medical marijuana for other conditions that physicians, in their discretion and medical opinion, determine are debilitating to a patient.
A similar provision was in SB 261, stating that drug was allowed for conditions if a doctor determines “the patient’s symptoms may reasonably be expected to be relieved from medical marijuana.” SB 261 passed the Senate in December 2021. It died in the House, though, in the session that ended late last year.
SB 261 allowed marijuana cultivators to expand grow space. The larger square footage isn’t in SB 9 but Huffman, who is a physician from Miami County, said he’s willing to discuss amending his bill with more grow space. “In my discussions with Sen. Schuring, we felt this would be a positive move and positive change for the industry,” Huffman said. “At the same time hopefully members of the House will be comfortable with it.”