Medical marijuana legal in Ohio, but patients still can’t get it

Medical marijuana legal in Ohio, but patients still can’t get it

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.

That begs the question: Is it legal now?

The best answer to that came last week from the State Medical Board. Even then, it wasn’t a very good answer.

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.”

Ohio will not permit smoking marijuana for medical purposes. Alternatives are vaping, oils, patches and edibles.

Officials with the Ohio Commerce Department, which will oversee and license cultivators, processors and testing labs, and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, which is in charge of dispensaries and a patient registry, said they are working on draft rules to be released later this year.

The rules will have to be reviewed by the Common Sense Initiative panel, which looks at the impact of government regulation on business, and the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, a legislative body that considers rules enacted by state agencies.

Another potential hurdle being put up by dozens of communities statewide are moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries. The moratoriums range from six months in New Albany, Pickerington, Springfield and 40 other cities to 18 months in Bexley, and a permanent ban in Hamilton in Butler County.

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.”

4 Responses

  1. Tracey , I agree. The government is not concerned about we the people in pain, but how they can get their money first! Like always.

  2. It does sound like it wasn’t very carefully thought out.Again it’s so much over regulating that they make it more difficult than it needs to be.The same occurred in Nevada,where it was legal medicinally for years before they starting opening dispensaries.Prior to that,it simply encouraged cartel business and many people grew there own.
    In my state,California,it has been legal medicinally for years.The dispensaries are regulated and well run,and there has been very few problems.The so called cannabis doctors here are board certified physicians and take their practice seriously,contrary to some of the jokes made about the pot doc,they do evaluate their patients,and ask for patient info as to conditions,such as Mri reports etc.It can be run professionally,and it isn’t a joke to the many who have been helped with this herb.
    It really is past time for the silliness to end.Cannabis can be a viable answer to the opioid overuse,as it is much safer only slightly addictive psychologically in some people,and effective.

  3. Steve doesn’t have to “spin” any articles in order to make the government look corrupt. The government does an excellent job at that. Let’s face it – they are corrupt. The government does NOTHING unless there is a financial incentive. Period. It’s ridiculous enough that marijuana is banned on a federal level, but making people in severe pain wait for more than a year so that the little busy-body bureaucrats can think up a million regulations to make it as complicated as possible while collecting salary from those same people who pay into the system through taxes is beyond absurd. Again, the government does NOTHING without a financial incentive. That, my friends, is corruption at its finest.

  4. This is not unusual. This probable happens in every state because they pass a law and it takes a few years to set up. For example in MN they approved marijuana for chronic pain bUT even though they already had a program for other health conditions it took 6 months to put into place. The normal time to get a program set up is 18 months to 2 years. Why does it take so long. They need to set up the regulations, along who can grow it, make the standard how it will be grown, what strains can be grown, testing for purity, who will sell it. Which takes contracts and regulations with them and so on.
    In fact this happens with just about every law that is passed in the US that deals with a start up program. I wish you would stop spinning every article that the government is so corrupt on everything. Chronic pain patients are angry about what is going on with there pain med and want answers on what we can do about. Not just articles that have been the norm in setting up programs for medical marijuana spun to something awful happening on part of the government.

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