Ohio lawmakers join push for medical pot

Posted at 7:52 PM, Apr 14, 2016

A group of Ohio lawmakers hope to have a medical marijuana plan for patients on Gov. John Kasich’s desk by the end of the summer in an effort to beat out initiatives scheduled to appear on the November ballot. 

The proposal would allow Ohioans 18 and older to buy edible marijuana products, plant material and oils with the permission of a licensed physician. 

It differs from the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana ballot initiative, which is currently in the signature gathering phase. 

The legislation is expected to be introduced in the state house this week. Unlike the ballot Marijuana Policy Project-sponsored ballot initiative, the bill would not allow home growing and would not require employers to allow medical marijuana use by employees. 

Ohio State Medical Association President Dr. Brian Bachelder told that the OSMA does not support the legislation, but believes it is a better approach than a ballot initiative. 

“The legislative process is the best way to go so we can at least discuss all the issues,” Dr. Bachelder said. 

He said the OSMA recently changed its position on the overall topic of medical marijuana, from opposing it to acknowledging that it is an important topic that needs to be further studied. 

He said the proposed House legislation contains three key provisions. The first is that it can only be prescribed by a licensed physician. 

“But initially this will be done through anecdotal reports,” explained Bachelder. “So physicians may be doing this by trial and error, which is problematic.” 

He also supports moving marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug, which would loosen the restrictions related to additional clinical research. 

OSMA also supports data collection provisions in the bill that could be beneficial in determining long-term benefits, Bachelder said. 

Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana told that his group applauds the Ohio legislature finally addressing the issue, but they still plan to move forward with their initiative. 

Tvert issued the following statement: 

We remain committed to giving Ohio voters the opportunity to adopt the most effective and well-written medical marijuana law possible. We’re glad legislators are finally taking this issue seriously and we’ll keep an eye on their efforts, but we will be moving forward with our initiative. 

It would be foolish to assume the legislature, which has failed to act on this issue for years, will actually pass a good law in a timely fashion. The legislature has kept seriously ill patients waiting for far too long, and they are proposing a plan that would needlessly keep them waiting at least another couple years. Once legislators start wheeling and dealing in backroom meetings, who knows what kind of law we will end up with. Our initiative gives voters all the details up front and lets them decide whether it is the right plan for Ohio. We’re confident that the measure we’re proposing will produce a sensible, fair, and compassionate medical marijuana program. We do not have the same level of confidence in the legislature.