With Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Bill Approved, Half of America Is Now Legal

By: Casey Porter

Governor Kasich Approves Ohio MMJ Bill
The push towards state-wide medicinal marijuana legalization made great strides this week. On Wednesday, June 9th, 2016, Governor John Kasich of Ohio signed a bill that legalized medical marijuana within the state; making it the 25th state in the country to have passed legalized medicinal marijuana within their borders. Those suffering from diseases and complications such as epilepsy, chronic pain, and side effects of cancer treatments can now use marijuana to treat their condition. The governor of Ohio was quiet regarding whether or not he supported legalizing medicinal marijuana, but he did state that he wanted to follow doctor's recommendations and help out those suffering from the diseases mentioned above.  

Layout Of The Bill
The bill signed by Kasich will take effect in 90 days. While medicinal marijuana will be legal in three months, a considerable amount of time will be taken in order to set up rules for growers, dispensaries, and patients.  

Nobody may grow medicinal marijuana at home or for personal use.  Those who are seeking to grow medicinal marijuana commercially must apply via the Ohio Department of Commerce.  Commercial growers also can't grow marijuana within 500 feet of a school, public playground, church, public park, or a public library.  Those who have a criminal background are not allowed to grow marijuana as well.

A big sticking point regarding this bill was to make sure that smoking marijuana remained illegal. This will undoubtedly have a major effect on low-income patients, because although smoking marijuana is carcinogenic, it still is the most cost effective delivery mechanism for patients who are on a tight budget. Instead, this bill only allows patients to medicate using vaporizers, edibles, and oils. Recreational use of marijuana is still illegal as well.  

Only physicians who are certified by the State Medical Board of Ohio are allowed to prescribe medicinal marijuana to their patients.  However, they may be disqualified from certification and lose their license if they try and use marijuana for financial gains, or if they have been convicted of certain crimes.  

These physicians may prescribe marijuana for people suffering from AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, Crohn's disease, CTE, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, Parkinson’s, PTSD, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord injury, Tourette’s syndrome, and ulcerative colitis.

Unfortunately for patients who suffer from these conditions, this bill allows employers to fire their employees if they test positive for marijuana.

Which Remaining States Will Legalize Medicinal Marijuana Next?
With half of the country now adopting medicinal marijuana policies, it's only a matter of time until other states follow suit. As of now, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina all have pending legislation or ballot measures in 2016. It's great to see conservatives who consider themselves to be skeptics of medical marijuana, such as Governor John Kasich, acknowledging the fact that there is enough evidence to support that cannabis can help those who suffer from debilitating conditions. Hopefully more states, especially conservative, southern states, see the benefits of offering patients an alternative form of medication, and adopt these much-needed policies over the coming months.