Ohio's medical marijuana law, House Bill 523, went into effect on September 8, 2016. It is now legal to purchase and possess medical marijuana in Ohio, as long as a patient meets certain medical conditions and has a doctor’s recommendation. Unfortunately, Ohioans cannot yet legally buy medical marijuana, and very few Ohio physicians are writing medical marijuana recommendations.
This leaves Ohio patients who could benefit from medical marijuana in a quandary - you may legally purchase and possess medical marijuana, but where do you get medical marijuana in Ohio?
Ohio's medical marijuana law intentionally does not mention where Ohio medical marijuana patients can get their marijuana, and public officials have different opinions on where Ohioans should procure their weed.
According to Ohio Senator Dave Burke, a Marysville Republican who fought for the passage of Ohio's medical marijuana laws, a patient can get marijuana from any source, including a dealer.
However, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine conceded that it would be "very difficult" to legally obtain medical marijuana at this time. Dan Tierney, a spokesman for DeWine, said, "Everybody knows there's significant lead time built into this statute. We don't have specific rules in place at the medical board or the pharmacy board."
Under the new law, the Ohio Department of Commerce, State Pharmacy Board, and State Medical Board were given 2 years to complete the complicated and time-consuming job of creating the rules, policies, certifications, licenses , and other logistical requirements that will allow Ohio's medical marijuana program to function. Even though Ohioans can now legally possess medical marijuana, it is unlikely that patients will be able to legally purchase medical marijuana in Ohio until 2018.
Because it is still illegal to grow pot in Ohio, people have suggested traveling to a neighboring state where medical marijuana is legal. Michigan, for example, has caregivers who can each have up to five patients. If there are enough caregivers in Michigan, an Ohio medical marijuana patient might be able to obtain medical marijuana in Michigan and bring it back to Ohio.
However, Michigan dispensaries might not sell to Ohioans, because out-of-state cards are accepted at the discretion of each dispensary. And a person traveling from Michigan to Ohio in possession of marijuana, whether for medical purposes or not, could still face federal prosecution for transporting marijuana across state lines.
Pennsylvania has legalized medical marijuana but, like Ohio, will take years to set up the dispensaries.
And it is unwise to fly with marijuana, even for medical purposes, as that remains illegal under Federal law.
For the time being, the best place to get medical marijuana is in a State where it is currently legal, or in another Country where it's legal. The difference under Ohio's new medical marijuana law is that, once the marijuana is in your possession, as long as you meet the other requirements, you will be able to assert an affirmative defense against prosecution for possession of marijuana.
If you have questions about medical marijuana in Ohio, contact us at Wolfe Legal Services today, I work with people throughout the greater Columbus area, including Dublin, Bexley, Upper Arlington, Marysville, Hilliard, Delaware and Newark, and throughout Franklin County, Delaware County, Union County, and Licking County. Call (614) 263-5297 any time or complete our online form.