One year after failing to legalize cannabis, Ohio will now settle for becoming the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana.
The Ohio Senate on Wednesday approved medical marijuana by a margin of only three votes, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
The House would later approve the bill, which is now headed to Gov. John Kasich’s desk.
Under the bill, patients with any of two dozen medical conditions would be able to use medical cannabis with a physician’s recommendation. The bill emphasizes non-smokeable medication as patients won’t be allowed to smoke marijuana, although vaping would be permitted.
“This bill is not perfect, folks, but it’s what Ohio patients need,” said Democratic Sen. Kenny Yuko. “If we can give one veteran comfort, if we can ease one patient’s horrible pain, if we can prevent one heroin overdose or save one child’s life — this bill will be worth it.”
Indeed, the bill is not perfect, as patients will not be allowed to grow and cultivate their own medicine. Moreover, patients can still be fired for violating a drug-free workplace policy, making them ineligible for unemployment benefits.
The law’s imperfections are why the campaign Ohioans for Medical Marijuana has continued to collect the signatures needed to make the November ballot. Their proposal allows smoking in private and growing plants for personal use, while also including more qualifying medical conditions such as nausea and autism.
“Our Constitutional amendment builds on the legislature’s work by incorporating national best practices and offers voters an opportunity to enact a law free of the horse-trading inherent in the legislative process,” said campaign spokesman Aaron Marshall to the Plain Dealer.
Gov. Kasich will have ten days to sign the bill into law. Once signed, the law will take effect likely around September, although lawmakers predict the program will be fully up and running within two years.
Does the Ohio law go far enough, or would you vote for home grows in November?