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Ohio: Former NFL Players, Troy Smith, Eric Metcalf, Look to Open Cannabis Dispensary

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Former NFL players Troy Smith and Eric Metcalf are pursuing one of the 60 dispensary licenses that Ohio will be issuing later this year. Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner who was a fifth-round pick of the Ravens, has said that head trauma he suffered while playing football is one reason he’s involved in cannabis dispensaries.

"Sports is a great thing to watch when you're snacking on chicken wings, but it's dead serious. We need to pay more attention to it and be more delicate," Smith said, adding that he is certain medical cannabis can be helpful to people with brain injuries.

Ohio: Madeira Says 'No' To Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The city of Madeira, Ohio - a suburb of Cincinnati - has decided to allow no medical marijuana dispensaries within its limits.

Madeira City Council passed an ordinance by emergency to prohibit the sale of medical marijuana within the city at its April 10 meeting.

“Medical marijuana may or may not have its merits but I don’t think Madeira would be ... appropriate for a dispensary to be located,” said Councilman Scott Gehring.

The ordinance goes into effect immediately since Council passed it by emergency. State laws regulating medical marijuana in Ohio go into effect on September 8.

A moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries was approved within the city in August. Law Director Brian Fox advised against continuing the moratorium and drafted the legislation for the prohibition. He also drafted legislation to limit dispensaries to certain areas.

“I am not outright opposed to medical marijuana dispensaries and the possibility that we might have residents that would very much appreciate and value having close access to that. But it seems that there are still a lot of unknowns in how this will be enforced and what that would mean,” Councilwoman Nancy Spencer said.

Mayor Melisa Adrien said she would like to see how dispensaries operate in other communities before allowing them in Madeira.

Ohio: Some Patients Already Receiving Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Even though Ohio is not ready to open its first medical marijuana dispensaries yet, some patients in the state are already receiving medical marijuana.

Patients are going to the Holistic Center in Toledo where they are issued an affirmative defense card, which protects them from prosecution if stopped with marijuana in Ohio. They are then able to head north to Michigan to get medical marijuana.

We have doctors who are actually very passionate about providing alternative solutions to opioids," said Louis Johnson, of Omni Medical Services. “The state is still working out their infrastructure but the law says patients have the right to use marijuana and as long as a doctor certifies such then they have that right to do so," said Johnson.

There are several conditions that can qualify a patient in Ohio to use medical marijuana:

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Alzheimer's disease
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Crohn's disease
Epilepsy or another seizure disorder
Hepatitis C
Inflammatory bowel disease
Multiple sclerosis

Pain that is either of the following:
Chronic and severe

Parkinson's disease
Positive status for HIV
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Sickle cell anemia
Spinal cord disease or injury
Tourette's syndrome

Ohio: Wendy's Customer Finds Marijuana In Her Daughter's French Fries


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Ohio resident Dezeray Risner says she got a little something extra in the kid's meal she bought. She claims that the kid's meal she bought for her four-year-old daughter recently contained marijuana.

She said her daughter complained that the food was "nasty", so she told her to spit it out in her hand. She claimed her daughter spit out a blunt along with the fries.

She called the manager of the Huber Heights restaurant where she bought the meal to complain. She filed a police report after that proved to be unhelpful.

The officer working with Risner believes her story, and wrote in the report that the “leafy green substance” found in the bag of French fries smelled strongly of marijuana. The officer got permission to search the Wendy’s location, but was unable to find any marijuana on the premises.

Risner’s daughter took a drug test at the local hospital, and Risner is awaiting the results. Though investigations are ongoing, local authorities acknowledged that it’s unlikely they’ll be able to prove the marijuana originated from the Wendy’s restaurant.

“We’re certainly aware of the claim that was reported three days ago and we’re actively investigating it,” a Wendy’s spokesperson told Fortune in an email. “We have taken this situation very seriously, and have been in touch with the customer.”

Ohio: Board's Timeline Concerns Medical Marijuana Advocates

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Advocates are concerned over the length of time it will take Ohio's medical board to draft rules governing how doctors can recommend to patients they use medical marijuana.

The medical board met Wednesday for the first time since the medical marijuana law went into effect and says it plans to study laws and practices in other states before drafting Ohio's regulations.

The medical board has a September 2017 deadline for establishing rules for medical doctors. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana spokesman Aaron Marshall says advocates want the board to act sooner.

Marshall says those who need the drug therapeutically are "seriously ill people" who should know how to defend themselves in court if caught with marijuana before the state's physician rules are established.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Becomes Legal Thursday

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

It was 90 days ago Thursday that Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law that legalizes medical marijuana. Medical marijuana finally becomes legal in the state tomorrow, making it the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana in some form.

The law allows patients to use marijuana in vapor form for certain chronic health conditions, but bars them from smoking it or growing it at home.

The Ohio Department of Commerce, State Medical Board and Board of Pharmacy will supervise the use of medical marijuana in the state.

ResponsibleOhio put a proposed constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot last year that would have legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use and granted exclusive growing rights to 10 investor groups bankrolling the campaign. Voters rejected the proposal. But polls showed that 80 to 90 percent of Ohioans favor legalizing medical marijuana.

The list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana in Ohio includes AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s, cancer, chronic pain, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, spinal cord conditions, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury and sickle cell anemia.

Ohio: Lakewood, Other Cities Block Medical Marijuana Business Licenses Before Any Will Be Awarded

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Laws for legal medical marijuana take effect in Ohio in one month, but Lakewood and other cities across the state are making moves to block cannabis businesses from opening in their communities.

Several Ohio cities have put a six-month moratorium on licensing marijuana cultivators, processors and retailers. Several others are considering temporary bans in advance of the new law, which takes effect September 8.

But it's likely to be six months before any marijuana businesses are licensed in Ohio. Three government agencies will be setting up the regulations and licensing processes, and the first deadline is in May 2017.

Ohio's medical marijuana law will people with about 20 qualifying medical conditions to use marijuana with the recommendation and approval by a physician. Stores will be able to sell cannabis plant material, patches, tinctures and oils.

Lakewood, Beavercreek, Troy and Piqua recently passed six-month moratoriums on licensing businesses and Rocky River, Lancaster, Lima and Liberty Township in Southwest Ohio are working on similar temporary bans.

One city has gone so far as to ban all legal marijuana operations. Hamilton, in Butler County, passed its ban in February 2015, months in advance of that year's recreational marijuana measure qualifying for the ballot.

Ohio: Governor Kasich Signs Medical Marijuana Law


Ohio Governor John Kasich on Wednesday signed House Bill 523 into law, making Ohio the 25th medical marijuana state.

Kasisch's communications team announced the signing without any comment, simply including in a list of other bills the governor also signed on Wednesday, reports Jackie Borchardt of Cleveland.com.

"This is a joyous day for the thousands of Ohioans who will finally be able to safely access much-needed medicine," said Ohioans for Medical Marijuana spokesman Aaron Marshall. "As we continue this movement to bring medical marijuana to all Buckeyes who need it, we will remember today as a huge step forward."

The new law goes into effect 90 days after the bill is officially filed with the Ohio Secretary of State, making medical marijuana legal sometime in early September. Patients will then have an "affirmative defense" against prosecution for marijuana possession charges if they have written authorization from their doctor to use marijuana in a form allowed under the law.

It could be a year or more until Ohioans can actually walk into a storefront dispensary and buy medical marijuana. The program must be operational within two years, according to the law, but lawmakers said it will probably be up and running sooner than that.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Signature Drive Suspended


Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Friday evening, "after considerable discussion," suspended a drive to place an issue on the November 2016 Ohio ballot.

"We make this decision with a heavy heart as we will surely disappoint our many volunteers, supporters and patient-advocates who invested considerable time and effort in our movement," said Brandon Lynaugh, campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. "It had become increasingly clear following the state legislature’s passage of a medical marijuana law on Wednesday that our ballot issue campaign had arrived at a critical juncture.

"With several hundred thousand signatures collected thus far, one option for our movement would have been to continue to pour our resources into obtaining the additional signatures needed to put the issue before voters," Lynaugh said. "But the reality is that raising funds for medical marijuana policy changes is incredibly difficult, especially given the improvements made to the proposed program by the Ohio General Assembly and the fact that the Governor is expected to sign the bill.

Ohio: New Law Could Lead To Marijuana Plants Growing In The State Within A Year

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Sen. Dave Burke, an originator of Ohio's new medical marijuana law, predicts that marijuana plants could be growing legally in Ohio in a year.

“As soon as 16 months, you would have products tested and available,” the Marysville Republican said.

House Bill 523, the medical marijuana law, completed a difficult journey through the legislature Wednesday. It is now headed to Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich has not indicated whether he will sign the bill into law. He could veto it or allow it to take effect without his signature.

“We expect to receive a number of bills over the next couple of weeks, and we’re going to carefully review each one of them,” Kasich spokesman Joe Andrews said. The governor, a Republican, has expressed general support for medical marijuana but has not addressed the specific bill.

If Kasich signs the bill, it will establish an extensive, regulated system for growing, processing, testing and dispensing marijuana for people with any of 20 specified medical diseases and conditions. Patients could receive a 90-day supply of marijuana edibles, patches, oils and plant material. Vaporizing marijuana would be permitted, but smoking it would not.

Burke said the legislation does not establish specific numbers for marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries.

Ohio: Legislature's Embrace of Medical Marijuana Bolsters Amendment Prospects


With the approval of H.B. 523 by the Ohio Senate and expected concurrence by the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Thursday announced it will move toward the November ballot with the issue of patient’s rights to medical marijuana supported by the Ohio General Assembly.

"This General Assembly has taken a step forward on this issue,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “Their support for medical marijuana speaks volumes for eliminating any remaining biases against allowing doctors to recommend this life-enhancing treatment to patients in need.”

"Our Constitutional amendment builds on the legislature’s work by incorporating national best practices and offers voters an opportunity to enact a law free of the horse-trading inherent in the legislative process," Marshall said. "Our amendment also protects the rights of patients in the Ohio Constitution, not leaving this important issue vulnerable to the reach of special interests."

While the legislative bill clears several important societal and policy-making hurdles, it omits a number of critical issues. They include:

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Plan Passes Ohio Senate With Slim Margin

Ohio's medical marijuana bill now goes to Gov. John Kasich's desk for his decision on whether to approve it or not.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Ohio Senate approved legalization of medical marijuana by a slim margin Wednesday evening, setting up the bill to probably be passed in the Ohio House later that night.

Senators approved the medical marijuana plan by a margin of just three votes. Smoking and growing marijuana at home are not part of the plan.

House lawmakers approved the Senate's revised version of the bill late Wednesday, sending it to Gov. John Kasich's desk.

Ohio will become the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana if Kasich signs the bill. He hasn't yet said if he'll support the bill but has indicated that he is interested in passing some sort of bill for medical marijuana, especially targeting children suffering from epilepsy.

The bill would allow adults to buy and use oil, tinctures, plant material, edibles and patches with a doctor's recommendation. Parents could purchase these products for their children younger than 18 with a doctor's referral.

The Ohio Department of Commerce would oversee those who grow, process and test medical marijuana. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy would register patients and caregivers and license dispensaries. The Ohio State Medical Board would handle certificates for doctors who want to recommend marijuana.

Ohio: Senate Panel Votes For Medical Marijuana Bill; May Fall Short In Full Senate


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Ohio Senate committee voted 7-5 on Wednesday morning for House Bill 523, legislation that would legalize medical marijuana for certain conditions, but the bill may not have enough support to pass in the full Senate.

About a dozen of 23 Senate Republicans and two or three or 10 Democrats said they are willing to vote for the bill, with 17 votes needed for passage, report Alan Johnson and Jim Siegel at The Columbus Dispatch.

In Wednesday's Government Oversight Committee hearing, four Republicans joined Democratic Sen. Michael Skindell in opposing the medical marijuana bill.

If the Senate does pass HB 523, the House must then go along with amendments made to the legislation; it had passed a pre-amended version. Assuming both chambers come to an agreement -- with lawmakers not due back for session until after the November election -- the bill would then go to GOP Gov. John Kasich, who said on Tuesday that he "favors the concept" of medical marijuana. As for this specific bill, "I have to look at it," the Governor said.

Ohio: Patients Would Face New Hurdles Under Senate Medical Marijuana Bill


The Ohio Senate’s State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday accepted a substitute version of House Bill 523, the narrow and restrictive medical marijuana legislation passed last week out of the Ohio House of Representatives.

“This latest version includes a series of high-cost requirements that will effectively keep many patients from being able to access medical marijuana,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “These mandates coupled with the legislature’s insistence that home grow be prohibited -- and the Senate’s elimination of a medical marijuana discount program for veterans and low-income Ohioans -- cements this bill as a deeply-flawed measure helping very few patients.”

Also changed on Wednesday in the Senate’s new version was language specifying that a patient’s pain must be “chronic, severe AND intractable” to qualify under a general pain provision. Intractable is often defined in medical dictionaries as “having no relief” or “resistant to cure, relief or control.”

“In essentially making the pain threshold intractable, lawmakers are cutting off access to thousands of Ohioans who have severe, debilitating, but not intractable, pain,” Marshall said.

Ohio: Patients Lose Under House Medical Marijuana Vote


With the Ohio House voting to approve legislation purporting to offer patients access to medical marijuana, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Tuesday released a statement rejecting the narrow measure.

“It’s a shame lawmakers couldn’t have made history with a vote on a substantive and meaningful medical marijuana bill,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “Today’s vote will only bring false hope and empty promises to Ohioans suffering from debilitating conditions who need medical marijuana.”

The House legislation suffers from numerous fundamental flaws that would restrict patient access and would take up to two years to be implemented, Marshall said. In addition, the House version leaves many critical decisions to an unelected board that could be stacked with persons openly hostile to medical marijuana.

In contrast, the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana amendment provides access to medical marijuana for thousands of Ohioans immediately upon passage through an affirmative defense and home grow clause and has clear language spelling out regulatory aspects of the plan, according to Marshall.

Ohio: House Passes Medical Marijuana Plan

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Ohio House lawmakers passed a plan to legalize medical marijuana Tuesday in a 70-25 vote.

The bill's sponsor GOP Stephen Huffman, an emergency room physician, said the proposal is what is best for patients after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration failed to act.

"I am absolutely convinced that there is therapeutic value in medical marijuana," said Huffman, after reciting a portion of the Hippocratic Oath that physicians take to care for patients. "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind."

Ohio's GOP-controlled legislature is not ready to accept all forms of medical marijuana, though. Patients would not be allowed to grow marijuana at home or to smoke it. Employers could still fire employees for having marijuana in their system, even if they are a patient with a doctor's recommendation.

Patients would be allowed to use a vaporizer, which heats marijuana into a gas rather than burning it to smoke.

Democrats were upset about the provision that allowed employers to discipline or fire employees for marijuana use, even if it were recommended by a physician.

"It’s kind of like we have schizophrenia here. We want to make it legal, but we want to punish people for it," said Rep. Dave Leland, D-Columbus.

The proposal now heads to the Senate, where minor changes are expected.

Ohio: Bill To Legalize Medical Marijuana Clears House Panel

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio has cleared a legislative panel today. It appears to be headed for a full House vote next week.

The bill would not allow patients to smoke marijuana but would allow them yo use it in vaporizers.

The legislation would establish a nine-member Medical Marijuana Control Commission to set the rules for cultivating, distributing, and licensing marijuana. Employers who want to maintain drug-free workplaces would be protected from liability under the law. Communities would have the option to not host dispensaries.

Rep. Kirk Schuring, a Republican from Canton, chairs the House committee that approved the bill on Thursday. He says he expects the full House to vote on the bill on Tuesday.

A number of polls have shown that a majority of Ohioans favor legalizing medical marijuana.

Ohio: Patients Still Lose Under Latest Medical Marijuana Plan From Legislature


As state lawmakers unveiled a revised version of HB 523, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Wednesday released a statement expressing disappointment with the narrow and restrictive substitute bill.

“The latest version fails to address the critical flaws in the bill that significantly restrict patient access,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “Very few doctors will be willing to enter into a system that doesn’t trust them to make decisions that are in the best interest of their patients and ties their hands with regulatory red tape. With so few doctors participating, patients will not have access to the medicine they need.”

Provisions in the revised legislation require doctors to recommend specific THC levels and strains of medical marijuana for patients. “These kinds of provisions risk putting doctors at odds with federal law, and have significantly hindered the two-year-old medical marijuana program in New York,” said Marshall.

Ohio: High Potency Pot, Smoking Outlawed Under Medical Marijuana Law Revisions

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana patients in Ohio could not smoke marijuana or use cannabis with high levels of THC under revisions expected to be made in the state's proposed medical marijuana law.

House Bill 523 will allow patients to use a vaporizer, which heats marijuana to the point it releases chemicals but no smoke. But the bill specifies that marijuana could not be smoked or made available in products children would find attractive, such as gummy bears.

The bill limits the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in marijuana plants and extracts. THC is the compound in marijuana that causes a "high" but also has been proven to increase appetite, decrease nausea, and to reduce pain.

The bill requires plant material to have a THC content between 3 and 35 percent and no greater than 70 percent for extracts. Some marijuana flowers and products sold in legal states such as Colorado fall outside of those amounts.

The bill does not allow patients to grow their own marijuana. It does allow patients to use marijuana if recommended by a physician with whom they have an established relationship.

The changes to the bill follow hours of testimony before the House Select Committee on Medical Marijuana, much of it from patients and their families about how to expand access to marijuana and protect patients.

Ohio: Marijuana 'Grow Operations' Found At Slaying Sites

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Investigators found three marijuana "grow operations" in southern Ohio at rural residences where eight family members were killed, state Attorney General Mike DeWine said at a news conference Sunday.

Authorities would not say whether they thought the killings were drug-related, but an official with knowledge of the operation told CNN, "This operation was not for personal use; it was for something much bigger than that. It was a very sophisticated operation."

The killings took place in Piketon, a small town of about 2,000 people 90 miles east of Cincinnati.

The victims ranged in age from 16 to 44, and were all methodically shot in the head Friday before dawn while sleeping at four different residences. A 3-year-old and a 6-mont-old were spared, along with a 4-day-old infant found lying next to its murdered mother.

"This was a preplanned execution of eight individuals," DeWine said. "It was a sophisticated operation and those who carried it out were trying to do everything they could do to hinder the investigation and their prosecution."

The killer or killers were specifically going after the Rhoden family, Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader emphasized, though he didn't say why. The suspects are probably armed and a danger to surviving family members, he added.

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