September 8 marks the first day Ohio’s medical marijuana law will be in effect, bringing new protections for qualified medical marijuana patients. Under the law’s “affirmative defense,” patients will no longer be subject to criminal conviction for possessing marijuana if they meet certain requirements. However, protections are limited, and they fall short of providing access to medical cannabis in Ohio, not expected for at least a year.
The affirmative defense provides limited, temporary protections for patients while the formal program rolls out. Among other things, it requires a signed letter from a licensed physician, including information about the patient and the medical condition treated. Importantly, the protections do not apply to cultivation or sale of marijuana. It also does not prevent patients from being cited, it only prevents a conviction. For a closer look at what an affirmative defense is and how patients can get the protections it offers, click here.
September 8 also marks the official start date for agencies to begin writing and adopting rules for medical cannabis businesses. We are watching the process carefully to ensure the system is as workable as possible for patients.
On May 25, 2016, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 523, a limited but workable medical marijuana bill that would allow seriously ill patients to use and purchase cannabis. This bill is now heading to the desk of Gov. John Kasich, who could sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. If you are an Ohio resident, please urge him to sign this compassionate bill into law.
This legislation was a direct response to an initiative MPP funded and sought to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. The medical marijuana program established by the bill does not provide for smoking, nor does it allow home cultivation. However, the bill as passed was greatly improved upon from its original version. Unlike some legislatively-approved bills, it includes chronic and severe pain as a qualifying condition.
Due to the legislature passing a workable bill, MPP has suspended its signature collection campaign. We are optimistic that seriously ill patients in Ohio will soon have access to this important treatment option upon their doctors’ recommendations. In conjunction with Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, we plan to continue advocacy efforts to ensure that the State of Ohio lives up to the promises contained in HB 523, while also working to better the program using the ballot initiative proposal as a roadmap for these improvements.
From the OMM press release:
Late Friday evening, after considerable discussion, the decision was made to suspend our drive to place an issue on the November 2016 Ohio ballot.
We make this decision with a heavy heart as we will surely disappoint our many volunteers, supporters and patient-advocates who invested considerable time and effort in our movement.
It had become increasingly clear following the state legislature’s passage of a medical marijuana law on Wednesday that our ballot issue campaign had arrived at a critical juncture.
With several hundred thousand signatures collected thus far, one option for our movement would have been to continue to pour our resources into obtaining the additional signatures needed to put the issue before voters.
But the reality is that raising funds for medical marijuana policy changes is incredibly difficult, especially given the improvements made to the proposed program by the Ohio General Assembly and the fact that the Governor is expected to sign the bill.
As we said following Wednesday’s vote, the legislature’s action on medical marijuana was a step forward, and thanks to the intense advocacy efforts of patients and their families, activists and our team the bill was vastly improved before passage. Removed from the bill was much of the red tape and onerous regulations that would have severely limited patient access, and added was a very important provision granting an affirmative defense to qualifying patients beginning this fall. Also stripped from the bill were troubling provisions raising the threshold for pain.
To be sure, there are shortcomings to the legislature’s measure. There are a number of qualifying conditions which should have been included, and we firmly believe that patients should have the right to smoke and grow their own medical marijuana.
But, all in all, it is a moderately good piece of legislation passed by lawmakers who were pushed hard by the patient community.
We plan on continuing forward as an advocacy effort to ensure that the State of Ohio lives up to the promises contained in HB 523, but also working to better the program utilizing our amendment as a roadmap for those improvements.
But the reality is for us, this campaign to put our issue on the 2016 ballot ends today. To everyone who joined us on this effort, especially those patients and their families who will benefit from Ohio’s new medical marijuana program, we owe you a debt of gratitude.
Late last week, the Ohio Ballot Board certified an initiative that would establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio. The five-member board reviews proposed ballot measures to ensure they represent only one issue.
Ohioans for Medical Marijuana must now collect 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”
The attorney general confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.” The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.
The Ohio Ballot Board will now have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws. Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.
Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, a campaign committee formed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), posted the full initiative text, the official initiative summary, and a Q&A with MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia on its website Tuesday morning.
allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it and protect them from arrest, prosecution, or discrimination with regard to housing, health care (such as organ transplants), and child custody.
permit qualifying patients to grow a limited amount of marijuana for their medical use, designate a caregiver to grow it for them, or purchase medical marijuana from licensed and well-regulated dispensaries;
maintain commonsense restrictions on the medical use of marijuana, such as prohibitions on public marijuana use and driving under the influence of marijuana; and
establish a Medical Marijuana Control Division to oversee a tightly controlled system of licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation facilities, distributors, processing facilities, and testing facilities.
Initiative backers plan to submit the initiative to state officials later this week. They will need to collect at least 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
Three out of four Ohio voters (74%) support amending the state constitution to make medical marijuana legal for patients with terminal or debilitating conditions, according to statewide survey conducted in February by Public Policy Polling. Only 22% said they are opposed. The full results are available at http://bit.ly/1Vt3vdA.