Ohio marijuana

Even though Ohio’s newfound medical marijuana law will officially hit the books on Thursday, this holds little value for the patients who need immediate, legal access to the marijuana. No grow sites or marijuana shops are expected to get ready to work for another two years, which puts those people in the community who are enthusiastic in participating in the program in a tough position: Do we wait out the system, or get involved in the dangerous system of smuggling in marijuana from a legal state?

When Governor John Kasich signed his name onto House Bill 523 earlier this year, which made Ohio the 26th state in the nation to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program, it came with a plan that allows the would-be-patients of the Buckeye State to obtain and use marijuana products from legal states-like neighboring Michigan.

The words chosen to create this law has confused many of the state’s residents, which can possibly lead to some people catching some heat from the federal government. While marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in both Ohio and Michigan, traveling across state lines with any amount of a substance derived from the cannabis plant is a violation of federal law.

This means any patient from Ohio with the proper paperwork that is looking to obtain medicine from a source in Michigan stands the danger of being charged with federal drug trafficking once they pass the “Ohio Welcomes You” sign-a crime that, even for small amounts of marijuana, comes with a punishment of up to five years in prison and fines reaching $250,000.

While it is true that Ohio’s new medical marijuana law comes with an “Affirmative defense” clause for those patients with a recommendation provided by a state-licensed physician, it does not apply to those people under the wrath of federal prosecutors. Sadly, some legal experts have even suggested that the affirmative defense, which basically gives certified patients the right to argue medical necessity in a court of law, will not exactly prevent people from getting nailed to the cross in state court, either.

“The important thing to remember is this doesn’t mean you can’t be prosecuted,” Douglas Berman, a professor at The Ohio State University, told WCPO. “It just means if you are, this is the defense you can use in court to ask a judge to dismiss the complaint. It doesn’t mean you avoid the hassle of the courts.” Ohio patients also have the issue of cultivation to contend with.

Unlike other states that have legalized marijuana in one way or another, Ohio’s law does not come with a home grow provision that gives patients the freedom to cultivate their own medicine. The law only allows patients with approximately 20 particular conditions to use multiple cannabis products, including edibles, oils, and vapors. State officials are not expected to officially launch the state’s medical marijuana program until 2018.


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