OH: Council Looks For Clarity In Medical Pot Permits


Zanesville – Ohio’s new marijuana law goes into effect on Sept. 8, making the state the 25th to legalize it for medical purposes.

However, that doesn’t mean anyone can casually smoke pot. In fact, smoking marijuana in Ohio will still be illegal.

Although Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a bill legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in June, it won’t be available at dispensaries anytime soon. The bill creates a regulated program controlled by three government agencies that won’t be set up for at least a year.

On Monday, the Zanesville City Council discussed placing a one-year moratorium on the issuance and processing of any permits allowing retail dispensaries, cultivators, or processors of medical marijuana within the city.

That will correspond with the state’s schedule for clarifying all of the details of the new law, council member Mark Baker said.

“It gives us time to adjust to the new law and how we as a city will handle the details,” Baker said.

Public Service Director Jay Bennett said the council members can’t take any action to include the new law in their ordinances until the state has drawn up all of the details.

“There is a lot of stipulations that go along with the medical marijuana laws, and they have not all been addressed,” Bennett said.

One of the details involves how the definition is written into the ordinance.

“Right now, we have ‘drug stores’ all over Zanesville,” said Bennett, citing a number of pharmacies. “This new law mandates no permits will be issued within so many feet of a school or church. So we have to clarify all of that.”

The one-year moratorium is conducive to what cities throughout the state are proposing. When the law was passed, legislatures estimated it would take up to two years before dispensaries became operational in Ohio.

At this point, the law allows anyone who has been determined by a medical professional to have a condition the state recognizes as benefiting from medical marijuana the legal right to possess it. However, the marijuana in question must be acceptable under the law, which allows plant material, edibles, patches, oils and tinctures. Smoking marijuana, possessing gummy bears and other edibles that would be attractive to children, or growing marijuana will not be protected under the law.

Doctors must register with the state, which will require completing some type of continuing education about cannabis, before being able to recommend marijuana to patients. The patient registration process would be determined by the Ohio State Pharmacy Board.

The law doesn’t say where patients would get their marijuana before dispensaries are set up. Michigan is the closest state that sells medical marijuana, but it sells only to residents of Pennsylvania.

The law will not protect employees from being fired for using marijuana. Ohio is an at-will state, where employees can be fired for any reason. Additionally, the law specifies that employees can be fired for marijuana use even if it was recommended to them by a doctor if the employer has a drug-free workplace or zero-tolerance policy in place. Employees fired for medical marijuana use are not eligible for unemployment compensation.

Patients and their caregivers can grown their own marijuana in 15 of the 25 medical marijuana states. Ohio is one of four states that prohibit smoking marijuana. From the beginning, Ohio lawmakers said smoking or growing it outside of a strictly regulated program were off the table.

Lawmakers were afraid both aspects teetered on the realm of recreational use. There also were concerns that allowing anyone to legally smoke their medicine contradicted the ongoing fight and public health messages against cigarette smoking. The law does allow patients to inhale vaporized marijuana.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Council Looks For Clarity In Medical Pot Permits
Author: Shelly Schultz
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