aaron marshall

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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: Governor Kasich Signs Medical Marijuana Law

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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: Legislature's Embrace of Medical Marijuana Bolsters Amendment Prospects

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

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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

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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

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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: 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.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Initiative Campaign Team Formed

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Ballot issues vet Brandon Lynaugh — who helped lead the campaign against the Responsible Ohio initiative last year — will serve as campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Monday announced it has formed a campaign team to support its initiative to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio.

Brandon Lynaugh, a veteran of more than a dozen statewide ballot issue campaigns, will serve as campaign manager. Lynaugh most recently served as campaign manager for No On 3, which led the effort to defeat the Responsible Ohio initiative last year.

“We’re excited to have Brandon at the helm of our Ohio campaign,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “His extensive experience with ballot issues and his history of standing up for Ohioans make him the right person to lead our team. He is committed to establishing a sensible, fair, and compassionate medical marijuana program that will benefit countless seriously ill Ohio residents.”

Lynaugh’s support for establishing legal access to medical marijuana stems from his experience with a close family member who suffers from epilepsy.

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