On May 25, the Ohio General Assembly passed legislation (House Bill 523) that legalizes the use of particular forms of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions.
- Physicians must apply to the State Medical Board of Ohio (SMBO) for a certificate to recommend medical marijuana to patients
- Physicians licensed to recommend medical marijuana can do so if:
- The patient has been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition (acquired immune deficiency syndrome; Alzheimer’s disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; cancer; chronic traumatic encephalopathy; Crohn’s disease; epilepsy or another seizure disorder; fibromyalgia; glaucoma; hepatitis C; inflammatory bowel disease; multiple sclerosis; pain that is either chronic or severe; Parkinson’s disease; positive status for HIV; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spinal cord disease or injury; Tourette’s syndrome; traumatic brain injury; or ulcerative colitis)
- There is a genuine patient-physician relationship
- There has been an in-person physical exam
- There has been a review of the patient’s medical history
- Physicians may recommend to minors if the aforementioned conditions are met and there is consent given by the appropriate parent or guardian
- Physicians will submit, on behalf of their patient, an application for use of medical marijuana, which requires:
- A genuine patient-physician relationship
- The patient has been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition
- The physician has informed the patient of the risks of marijuana
- The physician has concluded the benefits outweigh the risks of medical marijuana
- Recommending physicians are immune from civil liability, not subject to professional disciplinary action by the SMBO or the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy (SOBP), and are not subject to criminal prosecution for any of the following:
- Advising a patient about the benefits and risks of medical marijuana to treat a qualifying medical condition
- Recommending medical marijuana to treat a qualifying condition
- Monitoring a patient’s treatment with medical marijuana.
Patients must have one of the aforementioned medical conditions to apply to the SOBP for registration. Patients, once properly registered, may use and possess marijuana and paraphernalia.
The law will be effective 90 days after being signed by the governor. Details on the application processes for physicians and patients will follow. The medical marijuana advisory board has up to one year to establish standards and procedures for the medical marijuana control program.
Legislators, while not entirely comfortable with legalizing medical marijuana, saw public polling which reflected that nearly 90% of Ohioans support medical marijuana. They also heard emotional testimony from sick and disabled Ohioans who felt that medical marijuana had helped or would help them.
Medical marijuana was an issue state lawmakers wanted to settle before they recessed for their summer break because they hoped to avoid a more sweeping marijuana initiative appearing on the statewide ballot this coming November. And, in almost immediate response to the legislature’s action, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, a group affiliated with the Marijuana Policy Project, announced on May 27 that they were discontinuing efforts to collect signatures to have a marijuana initiative placed on the November statewide ballot.