Things are heating up in Ohio when it comes to determining the fate of medical marijuana within the state. It is clear at this point that the majority of Ohioans are ready to see medical marijuana (in one form or another) legalized and even the lawmakers are taking note as they try to get ahead of the ballot initiative which is underway. With the goal of pushing out legislation before the initiative even reaches the ballots, the House of Representatives introduced House Bill 523.
The bill introduced by the House has quite a few controversial aspects that leave medical marijuana patients weary – which might see to the ballot initiative coming through in the end regardless of any laws passed by legislature in the meantime. HB 523 would legalize marijuana for medicinal use with a recommendation from a physician as most medical marijuana programs do.
However, the restrictions surrounding it are a little more restrictive than most would like, allowing only vaporized, edible and topical forms of marijuana and strictly prohibiting patients from growing their own cannabis at home. Originally, it would have required a certified pharmacist to work in the dispensaries – but the Senate wrote that out of the bill this week before their final vote and the change will need to be approved by the House even after that.
One thing that many have not spoken about as much is the fact that this bill also offers no protection for medical marijuana patients when it comes to their jobs. A High Times article points out this line, “A person who is discharged from employment because of that person’s use of medical marijuana shall be considered to have been discharged for just cause,” which leaves those fired due to medical marijuana use unable to file for unemployment and are deemed in the wrong for their choice in medicine.
Looking at the bill, it is not a bad option – especially if it were the only option that was going to be available to patients; however the ballot initiative headed by Ohioans for Medical Marijuana would include all the same qualifying conditions (minus Tourette’s) but also includes severe forms of autism, Huntington’s disease and a couple others. Patients would be able to use any type of medical marijuana product, including smoked, vaporized, oils, edibles and concentrates, without restrictions.
The other major bonus for patients, if the ballot initiative were to pass, is the home growing aspect. For many patients, since insurance will not cover medical marijuana, it would become a very expensive treatment. By allowing home growing, they would be making it possible for anyone, of any income level, to obtain the medicine that they need and would allow caregivers to grow for up to five patients each.
Whether this legislation passes or not we will likely know by the end of next month. If it passes, Ohio will be the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana. Even if the bill does get signed into law before the elections this fall, the ballot initiative still has a chance if enough patients are unhappy with the restrictions set forward by the state government. What is apparent is that fact that one way or another, medical marijuana is coming to Ohio and soon.