Legislation that would legalize medical marijuana in the state of Ohio has cleared both legislative chambers and is now headed to Governor Kasich. House Bill 523, upon which the House concurred during today’s session, works to tightly regulate the distribution of medical marijuana, while ensuring access to those who need the medicine for certain conditions

"By leading on this issue, the legislature has taken an important step to both help Ohioans suffering from a wide range of pain and illnesses and in safeguarding our state's constitution," said State Rep. Steve Huffman, the bill sponsor.

The bill addresses seed-to-sale licensing and regulation of the drug, placing cultivators, processors and testing labs under the purview of the Ohio Department of Commerce. In addition, the Pharmacy Board will be in charge of licensing retail dispensaries and will be responsible for promulgating the rules guiding them.

Through working one-on-one with patients, physicians licensed by the State Medical Board can recommend medical marijuana, though they may not personally furnish or dispense the product. Physicians must keep a log of the recommendations of medical marijuana, as well as the conditions and reasons for why marijuana was recommended for treatment over another drug.

"The legislation agreed upon by the House and Senate reflect the hundreds of diverse and divergent voices who took part in our open, transparent process,” said Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), who chaired the House Select Committee on Medical Marijuana. "This bill creates a seed-to-sale regulatory structure that at its core allows physicians to recommend medical marijuana to their patients as an alternative form of medicine."

The bill provides protections for businesses to allow employers to maintain drug-free policies in the workplace, ensuring the safety of all employees and the efficiency of the business as whole.

The legislation is a result of much deliberation, including seven hearings and nearly 25 hours of testimony in the Medical Marijuana Task Force, a panel spearheaded by Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and chaired by Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton). The task force heard testimony from several experts from around the country, as well as employers, law enforcement officers, Ohioans suffering from severe pain, and drug addiction facility directors. Schuring also chaired the Select Committee on Medical Marijuana, a bipartisan group of House legislators who held nine hearings over the past three weeks on House Bill 523.

If signed into law, medical marijuana legalization would be phased in over a two-year period: One year to promulgate rules and another year to move forward for implementation.


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