Medical marijuana in Ohio may hit some hurdles

CLEVELAND - Ohio’s medical marijuana law has passed, but that doesn’t mean patients can get it and they may not be able to for some time. There are major holdups in getting the law implemented.

“There’s a lot of confusion out there in the medical community and the patient community and the legal community,” said Alison Kareem, the Deputy Director of the Cleveland Division of NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

The Ohio Marijuana Commission is slated with making the rules for how to buy, sell, and use medical marijuana. They are still working through specifics but should have a framework in place by next month.

One major hole though remains in the framework. Testing of medical marijuana, Ohio’s law requires, must be done during its first year, by universities. But federally funded schools want no part in testing this federally illegal narcotic.

“Part of the reasons universities are shying away is due to the federal standing of what cannabis is and a lot of universities that have the capability to test are backed heavily by the federal government,” said Richard Pine, the CEO of the Cleveland Cannabis College.

Pine said he sees the value in Ohio taking the time to carefully plan every aspect of the medical marijuana rollout.

“It’s creating some issues for patients that need medication right now but it also is putting in some safety aspects for the future to make sure all those patients are protected with what they’re getting,” he said.

“This needs to happen at a faster pace, it needs to happen where there is more access for the patients,” said Kareem.

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But patient advocates are worried while lawmakers are tied up in specifics, people are suffering.

“It puts a great weight on the patient to have to go and travel, especially if you’re sick, to travel a great distance,” said Kareem.

Until a testing method is approved in Ohio, patients will need to drive elsewhere to places like Michigan or DC to get the marijuana they need and then illegally take it back to Ohio.

MORE: Painesville looks to put temporary hold on Ohio medical marijuana law

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