Ohio Senators Approve Legalizing Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been hotly debated in Ohio over the past few years. If you have been charged with a marijuana-related crime, contact Ohio criminal defense attorney Troy Wisehart with Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA at (419) 625-7770. He has years of experience fighting for justice and will help you obtain the best outcome in your case.

Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Law

Ohio Governor John Kaisch recently signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana. This came less than a month after Ohioans for Medical Marijuana (OMM) ended their efforts to put a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana on the November ballot. OMM decided not to continue when Ohio lawmakers passed House Bill 523, which set the foundation for a medical marijuana system that was more restrictive than that of OMM’s proposed amendment.

Senior government officials and medical marijuana advocates both claim that these developments were not the result of a deal between the two groups. However, a spokesperson for OMM stated that the proposed constitutional amendment may have helped the medical marijuana bill move forward.

What Is the Future of Medical Marijuana in Ohio?

After last year’s failed ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana, drug policy reform activists set their aim on putting in place an inclusive medical marijuana system. Instead of the proposed constitutional amendment, Ohio adopted a restrictive system under which the way marijuana is obtained and ingested is strictly regulated.

OMM had criticized House Bill 523’s weak protections for patients, strict oversight, and long start up time. In response, legislators added the following to the bill:

  • An affirmative defense to criminal prosecution for patients and caregivers
  • A shortened wait time before cultivators may apply for licenses
  • A reduction in a dispensary’s reporting requirements to doctors and regulatory boards—including the elimination of the requirement of having a licensed pharmacist present in each dispensary

The work of OMM is far from over, however. The group intends to use its expertise to advise the Ohio government as it puts in place the medical marijuana program. It is also likely that the group will propose reforms to Ohio’s medical marijuana system to make it more inclusive and less burdensome.

Medical Marijuana Patients Are Still Treated Like Criminals in Ohio

Although Governor Kasich signed House Bill 523 into law on June 8, 2016, it does not go into effect for 90 days. Until then, medical marijuana remains illegal in Ohio. Growing, possessing, or transferring cannabis plants, buds, or extracts can result in severe criminal penalties and collateral consequences that could affect your ability to find a job, own weapons, obtain professional licenses, or apply to college.

Even with the new law, Ohio medical marijuana patients may still face legal hurdles. Besides the restrictions on growing and smoking the plant, House Bill 523 does not prevent employers from firing an employee for using marijuana legally. A person fired for using medical marijuana would be ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.

An Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help If You Have a Marijuana Charge

If you’re a medical marijuana user exercising your fundamental right to access medical treatment, you may find yourself facing criminal charges. In such cases, you’ll need the experience and skill of an Ohio criminal defense attorney to avoid the harsh consequences of a criminal conviction. If you’ve been charged with using, possessing, or distributing marijuana, call Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA at (419) 625-7770 today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.