HB 523

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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: 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.

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