Things are heating up in Ohio now that there will be a medical marijuana amendment being voted on in November. It seems that lawmakers are realizing that this initiative is likely going to pass – and they want to try and get ahead of the plan by creating laws that would allow medical marijuana. A bill was introduced to the House recently that just passed the floor vote with a 70-25 majority.
The bill they have designed would allow the use of medical marijuana in vaporized forms only, it would be allowed for 20 different medical conditions (including cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s, PTSD and epilepsy). Patients would not be able to grow their own medical marijuana and they would require on-going visits to the doctor who prescribed the marijuana to ensure it is being used as prescribed. These are only a few of the restrictions that would take place if this bill is signed into law.
After passing the House vote, the bill is now preparing to work its way through the Senate, where it is expected to receive little to no change before likely being passed. Once it gets that far it only requires the signature of the state governor before it is signed into laws – but what does that mean for the medical marijuana constitutional amendment? Well, if it were to pass, the amendment would override this law and create an entirely different program allowing smoked cannabis and home growing.
The one thing that would be really nice to see changed is the reason that a few democrats in the House chose to vote against this bill. There is a part of the bill that states that employers would still have the right to fire someone for marijuana use, even if it were prescribed by a doctor.
“Not only can you be fired because you are a medical marijuana user … we’re going to deny you your unemployment benefits for something that we just declared legal,” he (Rep. David Leland) said. “It’s like we have schizophrenia here.”
The group funding the amendment campaign, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, are making it clear that they think the program is too restrictive and that it is only a deterrent from voting in their amendment. They make a point that it could be a couple of years before physicians are even able to write prescriptions when leaving it up to the government (and those of us in Florida know how true that is…).
“Today’s vote will only bring false hope and empty promises to Ohioans suffering from debilitating conditions who need medical marijuana,” said spokesman Aaron Marshall
It will still be a small victory for medical marijuana patients for the legislature to pass this bill – however, those running the ballot campaign are right, there is still more than can be done. Likely, there will still be a large number of patients who cannot qualify with the new legislation or who prefer dried flowers to vaporizing oil – and these will be the people voting for this initiative and asking their friends and family to do the same. Either way, as of right now it looks like we will be able to call Ohio the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana.