Ohio Set to Expand Medicinal Cannabis Program

Recently, Ohio lawmakers put forth a bill that serves as a broad revamp of the state’s medicinal cannabis program. Alongside the alterations is syntax extending access to the miracle plant if a doctor ‘moderately’ maintains their patient’s ailments would be decreased or they would otherwise gain health benefits from cannabis.

It’s a possibly extensive expansion of qualification for patients after ages of gradual additions to the list of suiting health conditions. However, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Steve Huffman (R-OH), a modernized governing structure is the bill’s primary focus.

‘The greatest example is [how] the Department of Pharmacy maintains cannabis dispensaries, and the Department of Commerce manages [cannabis] cultivators,’ Huffman explained. ‘So if you have one of the [cannabis or cannabis cultvations], you have to make business decisions.’

The Ohio senator regards the Department of Pharmacy will remain responsible for a database of medicines via the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System. The system is commonly referred to as the OARRS. Despite this, most oversight will fall under the governance of a modern Division of Cannabis Control located in the Commerce Department of Ohio. Sen. Huffman affirms the bill encourages the department to provide more cannabis licenses as the market expands and pressure cannabis license stakeholders to put forth the product to the cannabis market immediately.

Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Oh) has joined as a co-sponsor of the bill mentioned above. However, it doesn’t encompass everything on the Senator’s wish list. Yuko explains it requires employment protections for patients prescribed cannabis. Despite this, he sees it as a necessary step in the right direction.

‘I know the need [of cannabis.] I know what [Ohio] did in 2016 was just the most modest of fractions of what was demanded by Buckeyes,” Yuko generally stated. ‘What this proposal does is try to move the state in the right direction of legal cannabis. Does it have complete protections? Not even close. Does it encompass all the issues [we] want to be covered? Not at this time.’

In the meantime, the bill fights for attention with three recreational cannabis motions: two in the Ohio Statehouse and the last at the voting booth. Sen. Huffman and Yuko together draw a contrast between medicinal and recreational cannabis, asserting that their bill and the other ideas are completely various conversations. However, as the universe of qualifying patients broadens, the difference between recreational and medicinal becomes gray.

One significant aspect left out of Sen. Huffman and Yuko’s bill provisions for home cannabis cultivation. Both efforts in the Ohio House make allowances for private cannabis cultivation. Ohio Democratic Reps. Casey Weinstein concerning Hudson and Terrence Upchurch regarding Cleveland would permit up to 12 cannabis (immature-mature combo equalling 12 cannabis plants.) Republican Reps. Jamie Callender from Concord and Ron Ferguson of Wintersville would allow six cannabis plants with up to two mature cannabis plants (i.e. flowering state.) The polling measure would allow private cannabis cultivation as well, not to exceed the amount of six cannabis plants per person and no more than 12 per private resident.

Sen. Yuko doesn’t resist giving Ohioans independence to grow their own cannabis, noting some constituents have complained about long drives to a dispensary.

As for a precise amount, Senator Yuko said he’d leave that determination to ‘the specialists.’

However, Senator Huffman is hesitant about home cannabis cultivation. He worries it might support black market cannabis sales or become a vehicle for cannabis theft. He also defends limiting production to licensed cannabis growers as a quality control and safety concern.

‘I don’t know what other medication you cultivate or make yourself at home,’ Senator Huffman stated. ‘And so that’s why [Ohio lawmakers] are staying away from [private cannabis cultivation.] It’s to keep the quality control intact.’

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