The Question of the Legality Of Marijuana
28 Jun 2016
‘Should Marijuana be made legal?’ This has been one of the hottest topics for debate over the years. Some people think Marijuana should be made legal while others strongly oppose it. House Bill 523 stating the use of marijuana as legal has been passed but not yet signed by the Gov. Kasich. Any bill cannot be considered a law if it is not signed by Gov. John Kasich or if ten days pass after he has received the bill.
The signing of the medical bill by the Governor might be delayed due to the sheer volume of bills passed this week.
Jon Andrews, a Kasich spokesman, said that Gov. Kasich would be happy to sign the bill if the need of marijuana is necessary and the bill is correctly framed. However, not everyone would be legally able to use marijuana, and it may take months before it goes into effect. Laws take effect 90 days after the bill has been inked by the Governor.
Under the law, people with medical conditions like HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), fibromyalgia, epilepsy or other seizure disorders and hepatitis C would legally able to use marijuana.
Other medical conditions of which the use of marijuana is legal are Parkinson’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anaemia, pain that is either chronic and severe, Tourette’s syndrome, disease or injury related to the spinal cord, ulcerative colitis and traumatic brain injury.
How can one legally use marijuana?
However, to legally use marijuana, patients need to get a recommendation from a licensed physician with whom they have an ongoing relationship. In few other medical marijuana states, a form should be downloaded from the state website and get it signed by the doctor. Many doctors charge a fee for marijuana related office visits as medical marijuana is not covered in any of the health insurance programs.
Patients who have doctor’s permission and qualify under the law can possess and use marijuana as long as the marijuana they use falls under the guidance of law.
This protection also applies to parents of children who are patients and the state law provides an ‘affirmative defense’ against prosecution for patients and caregivers. However, the bill has not mentioned anywhere about where people would get their cannabis.
One option is to get it from Ohio’s black market because dispensaries won’t open anytime soon. According to trend seen in other states that passed marijuana medical laws, it usually take years for process to complete. The Ohio dispensaries would not be opening at least before September 2018. However, if the bill is signed by Gov. Kasich by next week, things may go according to the following ways.
Affirmative defense would be established by September and a 14 member bipartisan Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee would be appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders by October. This advisory committee would help to draft the rules and regulations related to use of marijuana.
By May 2017, the Department of Commerce would set the cultivator standards and the number of cultivator licenses to be issued. Over this period of time, the Ohio State Pharmacy Board decides the rules for licensing dispensaries and Ohio Medical Board decides how physicians should qualify to recommend medical marijuana.
In Ohio, the employers can fire the employees for any reason or no reason at all, Ohio being an at-will state. Employers should review the drug policies very carefully as the bill protects this right and allows it only if the employer has a drug free or zero tolerance policy on the books.
The Federal rules about automatic post-accident drug testing have changed along with the Ohio law. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) has advised the federal employers to limit such testing as it infringes on worker’s privacy rights. To accommodate medical marijuana patients, some employers might relax their drug policies over time.
Ohioans are still planning and trying hard to get its amendment legalising medical marijuana in the Ohio Constitution. The amendment lists the various qualifying conditions, establishes a licensed and regulatory structure and enables the tax payers to sue the regulatory agencies if they don’t meet the deadlines. It will become a part of the Constitution if the majority of voters vote in its favour. However, parts of House Bill 523 like prohibiting smoking of medical marijuana would be found unconstitutional in court and hence, unenforceable.