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

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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.

A similar provision in the state of New York has been a key factor in why only 556 doctors out of 90,000 in the state have agreed to see medical marijuana patients, as reported by David Robinson and Patti Singer at the Democrat & Chronicle.

The House legislation would also take up to two years to be implemented with major decisions punted 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.

“Patients shouldn’t have to wait another two years for access to medical marijuana after waiting more than a decade for the legislature to act,” Marshall said. “We shouldn’t have to trust future political appointees to get it right.”

Beyond the many onerous provisions placed on doctors and patients and the restrictions on how medical marijuana may be used, the newest version of the legislation lists only 20 medical conditions under which patients would qualify for medical marijuana.

The state ballot issue being sought by Ohioans for Medical Marijuana includes a more extensive list with agitations of Alzheimer’s disease, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behaviors, severe fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy and Huntington’s Disease as well as diseases that cause muscle spasms, wasting syndrome and severe nausea being covered.

“Our amendment and our conditions list is based on the best practices of the two dozen states with medical marijuana laws,” Marshall said. “We encourage the General Assembly to not leave out the thousands suffering from these debilitating conditions.”

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana reaffirmed its commitment to pressing forward with its plans to appear on the November ballot. “Our amendment will establish a strong, patient-focused medical marijuana program Ohio voters can be proud of,” Marshall said.

Media report depicting problems with NY law due to dosage requirement for doctors: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2016/02/27/patients-strug...