Ohio lawmakers are set to introduce legislation this week that would allow the use and sale of medical marijuana in the Buckeye State by 2018, offering a different vision of legalization than advocates pushing a ballot measure this year.
The legislative proposal, backed by a bipartisan task force of lawmakers in the House, would allow patients 18 and older to purchase edible marijuana, patches, plant material and oils with a recommendation from their doctor, according to Cincinnati.com.
Lawmakers hope to send the legislation to Gov. John Kasich by the summer. Kasich, a Republican presidential candidate, has said he’s open to the idea.
The measure comes in advance of a hotly anticipated campaign for a ballot measure this fall that would also legalize MMJ.
The bill crafted by lawmakers, as expected, is more restrictive than the proposed ballot initiative by advocates.
Under the bill to be presented this week:
- Home cultivation would be barred.
- Dispensaries “would be regulated much like liquor shops.”
- Towns and counties could ban MMJ businesses through a popular vote.
- State legislators would ask federal regulators to reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II.
- Financial institutions that work with MMJ businesses “would be granted safe harbor from prosecution.”
What’s unclear is how many licenses may be issued under the lawmakers’ plan, what the qualifying conditions for MMJ may be, and how big of an industry could result from the bill.
It’s also not certain yet whether the Ohio legislature’s approach would include banning smokable MMJ in the same way that Minnesota, New York and now Pennsylvania have done.