by J.D. Davidson
Ohioans suffering from migraines, arthritis or other medical conditions could be eligible for medical marijuana if a bill in the Ohio House to expand conditions eligible for treatment becomes law.
The legislation also would create the Division of Marijuana Control within the Department of Commerce to oversee the state’s medical marijuana program, rather than the State Pharmacy Board that currently controls it.
“This bill is the result of numerous conversations with hard working stakeholders and advocates who have been finding ways to improve the program since its inception,” bill sponsor Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, said. “It is my hope that this legislation will bring free market principles to a highly regulated business. I look forward to working with this committee to create a regulatory system which will better suit our state’s businesses and better serve its patients.”
Huffman’s plan is to create a ratio of at least one licensed retail dispensary per 1,000 registered patients, adding dispensaries as needed in the future. The bill also would allow dispensaries to advertise without prior approval from the state.
Medical marijuana also would be able to be given out in pills, capsules, suppositories, oral pouches, oral strips, sprays, lotions and inhalers.
The bill, which has passed the Senate and had its second hearing in the House on Wednesday, adds arthritis, migraines, autism spectrum disorder, spasticity or chronic muscle spasms, hospice care or terminal illness and opioid use disorder for medical marijuana use.
The Center for Christian Virtue and the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association each opposed the bill in the Senate.
“Senate Bill 261 is simply another step toward recreational use marijuana,” Louis Tobin, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, testified before the Senate. “We remain opposed to Ohio going down this path because we believe there are significant negative health and public safety implications of relaxed drug laws. In addition to the general lack of research and understanding about the impacts of marijuana use, what research does exist in terms of public safety should be cause for alarm.”
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square.