A newly introduced bill would rule out the possibility of an agreement between Ohio and Michigan through which they would recognize each other’s medical marijuana patient registration cards. House Bill 597, introduced by Rep. Kyle Koehler, would prohibit the Ohio Pharmacy Board from negotiating reciprocity agreements with states that allow smoking or home-growing of cannabis.

“I’m just clarifying that if you buy whatever in a baggy in another state, you can’t smoke it here. … We don’t want people sitting on a bench in downtown Springfield smoking pot and saying they have permission to do that.” Mr. Koehler voted for House Bill 523, Ohio’s medical marijuana law that passed last spring that took effect on Sept. 8.

The law requires the state pharmacy board to try to negotiate reciprocity agreements in good faith with other states whose patient and caregiver eligibility requirements are “Substantially comparable” to Ohio’s. This would allow Ohio patients approved here to use marijuana to travel to other states with which it has such agreements without fear of being prosecuted for possession.

The same would be true for the other states’ residents who travel to Ohio. House Bill 597 would further narrow the number of qualifying states by also requiring that any potential partner prohibit smoking, combustion, and individual growing of marijuana. Ohio became the 25th state to have some form of medical marijuana law on its books.

Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, said only Pennsylvania, New York, and Minnesota could qualify for reciprocity agreements with Ohio under the terms of Mr. Koehler’s bill. He said current law is clear that smoking of marijuana is illegal in Ohio, regardless of where the patient buys it.

“It’s a real head-scratcher as to why this bill was introduced. Is he basically trying to make double-illegal or something? It seems to me this does nothing but punish patients and chip away at a program that hasn’t been formulated yet.”

While House Bill 523 has been in effect roughly two weeks, it could be nearly two years before Ohio’s heavily regulated system of marijuana cultivation, licensing, retail sale, processing, and testing is fully implemented. Even supporters of the law have said periodic legislative fixes are likely as Ohio treads uncharted waters with the law.


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