COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio’s top advocate for the new cannabis industry urged caution as the new medical marijuana law (HB 523) goes in to effect. The announcement comes on the day the state officially starts to develop rules which will guide nearly every aspect of the State’s new cannabis industry. Under the new law, the vast majority of the regulations, licensing and other details will not be finalized until mid to late next year. Although the medical marijuana law is now in effect, there is currently no way for patients to obtain or use it without facing legal penalties.
“We get it. Patients have been waiting decades and it’s hard to tell them that you need to wait a little longer,” explained Brian Wright, Executive Director of the Ohio Cannabis Association. “Unfortunately, this is all very new and the pieces are not yet in place. We don’t want anyone to be harmed by the confusing legal landscape.”
While the new law includes affirmative defense provisions which would essentially give patients an excuse if caught possessing medical marijuana, in their current form these provide little or no practical protection to patients. Under the requirements, the patient must obtain a complicated statement from a licensed physician authorizing them to use medical marijuana. With so much uncertainty, it would be difficult if not impossible to get such a letter and there remains no way for patients to legally obtain medical marijuana since the state has not yet developed to the rules to grow or distribute it.
The law also includes provisions for reciprocity with other states that allow for medical marijuana. These agreements will need to be worked out with each state individually and are unlikely to be in place for at least another year. As a result, patients who think they can obtain medical marijuana from another state and simply bring it back to Ohio put themselves at risk of violating Ohio law and potentially federal charges for taking a Schedule I narcotic across state lines.
“We know these treatments can’t come soon enough for so many, but we want patients to be safe and urge everyone to be cautious and understand the risks until this system is fully up and running,” explained Wright.
The Ohio Cannabis Association acts as the central voice to bring business, patients, advocates, leaders and consumers together to promote a safe cannabis marketplace that improves the economy and ultimately the quality of life for all residents. More information is available at www.OhioCannabisAssociation.com.
# # #