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Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Ohio House, Moves To Senate

Legislation Politics Medical Marijuana News Dispensary

By: Kyle Brown

The Ohio House passed House Bill 523 May 10 with a 70-25 vote, moving forward on a bill to create a legal medical marijuana program for the state. 

Bill sponsor Rep. Stephen Huffman (R-80), an emergency room doctor, recited a few lines from the Hippocratic Oath before the vote, according to the 
Columbus Dispatch.

“This is what this bill is all about, which is the patients. I am absolutely convinced there is therapeutic value in medical marijuana,” he said in the article.

H.B. 523 would allow patients with qualifying medical conditions to buy and use medical marijuana with recommendation from their state-licensed physicians, according to 
Cleveland.com. It would allow vaping, but not smoking. The rules and regulations surrounding the program would be written by a nine-member commission within two years of the bill becoming law. The state would issue licenses for growing, testing, processing and selling medical marijuana.

The bill is more restrictive than other medical marijuana ballot proposals in the past, and does not provide workplace protection for patients. It also does not allow home grow for patients.

“It’s discriminatory. No, as a matter of fact, it’s a cruel joke,” said Rep. Theresa Fedor (D-45) in the previous article. Fedor voted against the bill.

Though the bill is moving quickly through the Ohio legislature, the proposed medical marijuana ballot measure from Ohioans for Medical Marijuana is still on track for November, says Aaron Marshall, communications director.

“Frankly, today’s vote is disappointing. It was a historic vote, but lawmakers didn’t make history with a substantive and meaningful medical marijuana bill,” says Marshall. “Today’s vote will only bring empty promises to Ohioans suffering from debilitating conditions, who need medical marijuana.”

The ballot proposal provides immediate access and home grow provisions. It covers 26 qualifying conditions, compared to H.B. 523’s 18, notably leaving off Alzheimer’s, autism, fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease, muscle spasms and severe nausea, says Marshall. The bill also requires patient reports every 90 days, and annual reports from physicians for patients to multiple state agencies.

“Under their legislation, there are going to be very few doctors who are going to be willing to participate in a system that is so restrictive and filled with red tape,” says Marshall.

The bill, introduced less than a month ago by Huffman, went through the Select Committee on Medical Marijuana before reaching the vote in the House. The committee, headed by Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-48), approved the plan last week. 

It now moves to the Senate. Schuring says he expects the legislation to be enacted by the end of May, according to 
NBC4i.com.

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana is currently still collecting signatures for the proposed ballot measure, says Marshall.

“It doesn’t change things at all for us. We plan to charge full speed ahead in our effort to give Ohioans the opportunity to help hundreds of thousands of Buckeyes through our ballot issue,” he says.
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