Ohio’s medical marijuana law went into effect on Thursday, but questions still remain as to how the state will run things. A multitude of unanswered questions from patients, doctors, police and pharmacists still remain.
While the state has legalized marijuana for medical purposes to treat certain conditions, patients are still unable to buy the drug legally.
Ohio is the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana, and it will have two years to implement the rules that will govern who can grow marijuana and how it will be distributed. Patients are hoping that lawmakers move as quickly as possible.
Although Ohio’s medical marijuana program still has a long way to go, the bill – House Bill 523 – does outline a legal defense for people who are caught with marijuana before the rules and regulations are finalized.
Under the law, patients will be required to have a note from their physician stating that they have a medical need for medical marijuana. An established relationship between the patient and doctor must also be demonstrated, and the patient must have a qualifying medical condition.
But advocacy groups warn that the affirmative defensive provision does little to protect patients. The Ohio Cannabis Association wrote in a statement, “With so much uncertainty, it would be difficult if not impossible to get such a letter and there remains no way for patients to legally obtain medical marijuana.” The group states that the statement required from physicians is complicated.
The rules for prescribing, distributing and producing medical marijuana in Ohio are expected to take a year to develop.
Thus far, the law allows for medical marijuana to be prescribed for AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer’s, pain and PTSD.
On the medical front, the Medical Board of Ohio has yet to issue any guidance to their doctors for marijuana recommendations.