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Senate changes Ohio's medical marijuana bill, but the bill remains 'narrow' and 'restrictive'

marijuana plant.jpg

Ohio seems on the verge of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. Yesterday, WDTN News reported that the Senate made the following changes to a bill that has been working its way through the legislature:

  • The Ohio Pharmacy Board (rather than the Ohio Marijuana Control Commission, which would be eliminated) would handle ongoing regulation.
  • Patients would be required to vape (rather than smoke) marijuana.
  • Patients would be prohibited from growing their own marijuana.
  • Local communities could decide against having cannabis dispensaries in their own backyards.
  • Employers could maintain drug-free workplaces if they wanted, presumably meaning that a positive drug test for marijuana would be grounds for a no-hire or termination.

Now, the bill goes back to the House for an up or down vote, as WDTN News reports, which could occur as early as next week, with the overall goal of "fast-tracking" the bill to Gov. John Kasich by the end of this month.

The reason for the fast track?

Lawmakers apparently want to get there ahead of a Nov. ballot decision on marijuana, which would likely be more permissive, such as allowing adults to grow their own marijuana at home.

Make no mistake - you may still face marijuana charges, no matter what happens with the bill.

A medical cannabis bill would expand the treatment options for Ohioans suffering from certain illnesses, but it's still a long way from lifting the marijuana prohibition. In fact, the Marijuana Policy Project calls House Bill 523 "narrow" and "restrictive," and that law enforcement arrested 14,374 people for marijuana (in 2012), most of which were for possession.

This isn't likely to change in Ohio any time soon.

If you face drug charges, call Amy M. Levine & Associates at 614-360-2942.

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