Ohio House Bill 523
Last update: May 20, 2016
On May 9, 2016, the Ohio House passed House Bill 523, a narrow and restrictive medical marijuana bill. The bill lists 19 conditions that would qualify a patient for medical marijuana.
House Bill 523 would take up to two years to be implemented, with major decisions punted to an unelected board that could be stacked with persons openly hostile to medical marijuana. The bill does not include an affirmative defense clause and leaves patients who need medical marijuana without legal protection for the next two years.
The bill requires physicians to recommend specific amounts, methods of use, and THC levels in their patient recommendations. This puts doctors at odds with federal law and puts their federal licenses to prescribe drugs in jeopardy. A similar provision in the state of New York has been a key factor in why only 556 doctors out of 90,000 in the state have agreed to see medical marijuana patients.
House Bill 523 is a narrow and restrictive plan, which leaves too many patients suffering and too many questions unanswered. It is currently undergoing hearings in the Ohio Senate with a floor vote expected by the end of May. We think patients are entitled to a comprehensive program that doctors are actually willing to certify patients for and that provides immediate protections — that’s why we’re continuing efforts forOhioans for Medical Marijuana and hope you will help us qualify it for the ballot and pass it.
Ohioans for Medical Marijuana ballot initiative set for November election
Ohioans for Medical Marijuana (OMM), which is supported MPP, is working to pass a medical marijuana ballot initiative through a simple majority of the vote in Ohio on November 8, 2016. The statewide signature drive will span from April to June 2016, with the goal of submitting at least 305,591 valid signatures (approximately 550,000 gross signatures) to the Ohio government during the first week of July.
Specifically, the Ohio initiative allows patients with serious medical conditions to purchase medical marijuana from retail outlets — and/or grow their own medical marijuana at home — if they have the approval of their physicians. In the furtherance of this, the Ohio government would issue licenses for businesses to grow, process, test, and sell marijuana to patients with state-issued identification cards. You can read an initiative summary here.
In November 2015, a controversial measure to legalize and regulate marijuana — but to allow only 10 specific parcels to grow commercial marijuana — was defeated at the ballot box. However, poll after poll showed overwhelming voter support for medical marijuana and some reform. The 2016 campaign is focusing only on medical marijuana, which enjoys a high level of support among Ohio voters. If passed, Ohio would become the 25th medical marijuana state in the country.
Marijuana laws in Ohio
Possession of less than 100 grams (or about 3.5 ounces), giving 20 grams or less of marijuana to another person, or growing less than 100 grams of marijuana are each considered “minor misdemeanors,” punishable by a maximum fine of $150. A minor misdemeanor is not a “jailable” offense, but a person’s driver’s license can be suspended for a period ranging from six months to five years.
While Ohio’s marijuana penalties are less draconian than its neighbors, law enforcement officers are still wasting valuable time and resources. In 2012, Ohio officers arrested or cited 14,374 people for marijuana-related offenses, 94% of which were for possession only. At the same time, 91.6% of all reported burglaries — including home invasions — and 90% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved. Let your legislators know it’s time law enforcement stopped wasting time punishing adults for choosing a safer alternative to alcohol.
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