On May 18, the Ohio Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee made a number of revisions to the House-passed version of Substitute House Bill 523, a bill to legalize medical marijuana. The Senate may vote as early as this week on the bill as legislators are in a huge hurry to get some sort of medical marijuana legislation passed prior to breaking for their summer recess. They want to avoid another medical marijuana statewide ballot issue this fall.
The Senate version of the bill would allow patients to obtain out-of-state medical marijuana while Ohio gets its regulatory processes in place. The House-passed version would have resulted in patients waiting up to two years while the process mechanics in Ohio were developed.
The Senate bill would also use the existing regulatory apparatus [the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy (SOBP) and the State Medical Board of Ohio (SMBO)] rather than create a special medical marijuana commission that would operate under the Ohio Department of Commerce in consultation with the SOBP and the SMBO.
Under the House-passed version of the bill, marijuana could be prescribed for pain that is chronic, severe, “or” intractable. The Senate version says marijuana could be prescribed for pain that is chronic, severe, “and” intractable. The change reflects the desire to utilize medical marijuana for chronic pain, but not acute pain.
Under the Senate bill, physicians would be required to report medical marijuana prescription activity annually and to see a patient who received a medical marijuana prescription on an annual basis. The House bill had required reporting and a patient visit every 90 days.
Once the Senate votes on the bill, any revisions they make will have to go to the House for concurrence. If the House fails to concur, the bill would go to a conference committee where the differences in the House and Senate versions would have to be hammered out.