Ohio Legislators Introduce Medical Cannabis Reform Bill

Ohio Legislators Introduce Medical Cannabis Reform Bill

According to a report by High Times, two Republican state lawmakers in Ohio have proposed a bill to change the state’s medical marijuana laws. The bill would create a new state agency to oversee the program and allow more people use medical marijuana.

On January 11, state Senators Steve Huffman and Kirk Schuring brought Senate Bill 9 to the floor. It was sent to a legislative committee to be looked at. The bill is similar to Senate Bill 261, a proposal from the last legislative session that passed the Ohio Senate but failed to pass the Ohio House of Representatives in December 2021.

Both bills try to update Ohio’s medical marijuana law, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law in 2016. Under the new bill, the Ohio Department of Commerce would get a new division called the Division of Marijuana Control to run the state’s medical marijuana program. The law also sets up a 13-person commission that will be in charge of keeping an eye on the new agency and the medical program. By law, the Ohio Department of Commerce, the State Medical Board of Ohio, and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy are in charge of the state’s medical marijuana program.

Ohio’s Bill Adds New Qualifying Conditions

Senate Bill 9 would also add autism spectrum disorder, arthritis, migraines, chronic muscle spasms, and opioid use disorder to the state’s list of medical conditions that allow patients to use cannabis for medical purposes. At the moment, the list of qualifying conditions includes more than two dozen serious medical conditions, like cancer, chronic pain, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, and terminal illnesses.

The bill also lets people with other debilitating medical conditions that can be helped by medical cannabis, as determined by their doctor, use medical marijuana. The first bill had a similar part that let people use medical cannabis if a doctor said “the patient’s symptoms may reasonably be expected to be relieved from medical marijuana.”

At a Senate Bill 9 committee hearing, Huffman and Schuring told their fellow committee members that many Ohio medical marijuana patients cross state lines to get marijuana from neighboring states with more relaxed marijuana laws. According to information from state regulators, as of January 1, more than half of the more than 320,000 people who had signed up for Ohio’s medical marijuana program did not have an active doctor’s recommendation or patient registration. Only about 164,000 people had both an active doctor’s recommendation and a patient registration.

Recreational Cannabis Recommendations Under Consideration

Ohio lawmakers are also thinking about a bill that would make it legal for adults to use marijuana. Secretary of State Frank LaRose brought back the plan earlier this month. It would make marijuana legal for adults over 21 and put a 10% tax on commercial cannabis products. Activists wanted the measure to be on the ballot for the midterm elections in November, but legal problems caused delays. As a result, state officials and activists agreed to look at the issue again this year. If the state legislature doesn’t pass the measure within four months, the group leading the effort to legalize marijuana, the Coalition To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, can collect signatures to put the proposal on the ballot in the fall.

Senate Bill 9 has been sent to the General Government Committee of the Senate to be looked at. Senator Michael Rulli, who is a Republican and leads the panel, said at a hearing that the committee would move quickly on the bill.

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