COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s new medical cannabis law officially went into effect on Thursday, September 8th, making Ohio the 25th state to establish legal access to whole-plant medical cannabis, with some caveats.
Beginning today, Ohioans with qualifying medical conditions will be eligible for legal protection for possession of a 90-day supply of medical cannabis. Patients with qualifying medical conditions will receive limited legal protections from laws prohibiting cannabis possession, as several state agencies formally begin the process of establishing a regulated system of medical cannabis production and distribution. Currently, while medical cannabis patients in Ohio have nowhere to legally obtain their medicine, and won’t for potentially two years, they do have an affirmative defense against cannabis possession charges, if they have a written statement from their physician that shows:
- the patient has a condition listed in Ohio’s medical cannabis law;
- the patient and doctor have an ongoing physician-patient relationship;
- the patient has been informed of the risks and benefits of medical cannabis, and the doctor indicated that the benefits outweigh the risks; and
- the doctor has obtained a report from Ohio’s drug database showing other drugs prescribed to the patients over the past 12 months.
“This is a major milestone in establishing a system that will help countless Ohioans who are suffering from serious illnesses,” said Aaron Marshall, the spokesperson for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, the group behind a proposed ballot initiative that inspired legislators to adopt House Bill 523. “It is one of the first steps on a long road to developing a well-regulated system. The real work of crafting the specific rules and regulations still lies ahead.” Marshall went on to add that, “We are closely monitoring the development of Ohio’s medical cannabis system to ensure it will be a robust and transparent program,” and that their “goal is to ensure that this effective medicine is available and affordable for seriously ill patients who desperately need it.”
“A lot of patients have already begun to talk with their doctors about medical marijuana, and that will continue as the program rolls out,” Marshall said. “Right now, it is critical that the state medical board and the state pharmacy board provide clear guidance for physicians and their patients. Doctors need to know how they can serve those they assist, and need to understand the limits of the law. We hope that guidance will be available without delay,” he noted.