Debate grows over when Ohio physicians can begin recommending medical marijuana

Posted at 12:05 AM, Oct 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-11 00:05:22-04

The Ohio Patients Network tells News 5 that the state’s medical board is ignoring part of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana law that allows for patients to possess medical marijuana before the full regulatory system is put in place. 

Section 6 of H.B. 523 gives Ohio patients and caregivers an affirmative defense against criminal liability for medical marijuana patients effective Sept. 8, 2016 with a doctor’s recommendation. 

But the State Medical Board of Ohio said in a statement that physicians are not permitted to issue a state of Ohio approved recommendation until he or she has obtained a certificate — and the deadline for the rules and standards outlining the process is no later than September 2017.  

David Patton, a medical cannabis attorney and member of the Ohio Patients Network Board, told News 5 that Ohio patients don’t have that much time to wait. 

“They are, in my view, misinterpreting the law, they are stonewalling and illegally preventing Ohio patents and caregivers from taking advantage of this affirmative defense,” said David Patton, a medical cannabis attorney and member of the Ohio Patients Network Board. 

Patton has a personal connection to the medical marijuana debate in Ohio. His son, P.J., was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 6 and suffered from multiple seizures a day. His seizures are now under control but Patton said he and his family were seriously considering medical marijuana as the only treatment option left. 

“I was prepared to go to jail and lose my law license if that meant that my child’s life could be saved,” Patton said. 

In a statement, Sen. Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) said the State Medical Board’s guidance to physicians was contrary to the intent of the bill. 

“The goal of the affirmative defense is to expedite access for patients who have a qualifying condition and a recommendation from their doctor. It would protect them from a possession of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia conviction. This was considered an appropriate compromise to avoid forcing those in significant need to wait while Ohio took the important time to effectively establish the regulatory system.” 

Patton has drafted a letter to the State Medical Board of Ohio asking for representatives of the Ohio Patients Network to be placed on the agenda of the Medical Board’s public meeting in October to discuss the issue.