Ohio Lawmakers Send Medical Cannabis Bill to Governor

(Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that the Ohio Legislature’s bill to legalize medical marijuana would prohibit smokable MMJ. That is inaccurate; the bill would permit dispensaries to sell “plant material,” but smoking cannabis would remain illegal.)

The Ohio Senate passed a medical marijuana bill and sent it to Gov. John Kascich, who will review the legislation.

The Senate’s approval of House Bill 523 comes two weeks after House lawmakers did the same in a bid to head off a possible ballot measure this fall that would create a more permissive MMJ program. Both chambers are Republican-led.

The Ohio legislation, if signed into law, would be more limited than those in some states.

It would prohibit personal growing and smoking flower. Instead, patients would be allowed to consume oils, tinctures, and patches which would be sold in dispensaries licensed by the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, Cleveland.com reported. The measure, House Bill 523, also would allow dispensaries to sell “plant material,” but smoking it would remain illegal (presumably, vaping would be a legal use for flower).

The legislation contains more than 20 qualifying conditions for MMJ use, including chronic or severe pain, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, PTSD, and inflammatory bowel disease.

The Ohio Department of Commerce would be in charge of writing rules for licensing cultivators, processors and testing labs. Licensed pharmacists would be required on-site at dispensaries.

According to news reports, legislators passed this bill to undermine support for a less restrictive ballot measure that supporters are trying to get in front of voters in November. A poll released May 11 found that 90% of Ohio voters support legalizing medical cannabis.

Last November, Ohio voters defeated a ballot measure that would have legalized medical and recreational marijuana.