Cannabis in America
Medical Marijuana is Legal in Ohio, But Patients Will Be Waiting to Obtain it
Medical marijuana officially became legal in the state of Ohio today, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize medicinal pot. However, confusing rules and a slow implementation schedule could mean patients may have to wait between one to two years before they can get their hands on it.
As of September 8, Marijuana will be legal for approved patients to consume in the form of edibles, patches, tinctures, oils, and vapors. Smoking is still prohibited.
Governor John Kasich signed the bill into law earlier this year as part of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. The move came after voters failed to pass the previous year a constitutional amendment proposed by ResponsibleOhio on the statewide ballot that would have made both medical and recreational marijuana legal in the state, as well as granted exclusive growing rights to the 10 investor groups backing the backing the campaign.
What are the Problems?
While the program may be legal now, there currently are a long list of set backs and challenges that will make it incredibly difficult for patients to take advantage of the program.
Problem 1: Recommendations
Qualifying Ohioans will be required to obtain a recommendation for medical marijuana, but the federal government prohibits doctors from being able to prescribe marijuana. Therefore, patients will need to get recommendations from a certified physician instead–but currently there are no physicians certified.
“Doctors really are in limbo,” said Reginald Fields, a spokesman for the Ohio State Medical Association, to the Associated Press. “There’s a little confusion out there, so we’re essentially asking physicians to stand by until some of these issues are clarified and we can assure they’re acting on the right side of the law.”
Problem 2: Dispensaries
Another problem is figuring out from where the patients will obtain marijuana. Under the Ohio law, patients will be able to purchase the drug from licensed dispensaries, but it could be years before cultivators, dispensaries, and testing laboratories are up and running.
Problem 3: Legal Limbo
Due to clashes with federal law, banks are unable to handle money made from marijuana-related businesses, and lawyers are caught up in an ethical battle on whether or not to handle marijuana cases, which violate federal law. Then there’s also the question of what rights qualifying Ohioans will have when it comes to transporting their drugs, as well their ability to consume them in other states.
All of these problems will make it hard for Ohioans to gain access to the drug. Even so, the state is making an effort to move forward with the program. It has been given 30 days from Thursday to appoint members to the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, which will help develop regulations and make recommendations for putting a medical marijuana system in place.
The program is required to be fully operational no later than September 2018.
Qualifying medical conditions for the program include: AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.