A bill authorizing physicians to prescribe marijuana derivatives to treat a host of health conditions was signed into law this afternoon by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
The second-term Republican had expressed support for the concept, but his office had not said whether he would sign the hard-won legislation until he studied its details. He signed the bill within a couple of hours of it landing on his desk.
The bill passed the Republican-controlled General Assembly — by a 18-15 vote in the Senate and a 67-28 vote in the House — on May 25.
State Sen. Dave Burke, R-Marysville, a pharmacist who carried the bill, predicted that chosen growers could be cultivating marijuana in Ohio soil within a year, with marijuana products tested and available in 16 months.
However, some believe that time frame is optimistic. The law requires that medical marijuana be available within two years.
The law, which will take effect in 90 days, establishes what is touted as a “seed-to-sale” system for growing, testing and dispensing marijuana for 20 medical conditions, including chronic pain.
The law prohibits the smoking of medical marijuana and home growing of pot, but permits vaping products, patches and certain edibles.
The Department of Commerce, Ohio Pharmacy Board and Ohio Medical Board all will play a role in overseeing medical marijuana and must write rules for approval by a legislative panel.
The law also creates a 12-member commission to advise the state agencies as medical marijuana policies and rules are formulated. The number of marijuana growers and dispensaries have not been established. The bill provides no protection against employers taking action against employees using prescribed medical marijuana amid workplace prohibitions.
With a poll showing 90 percent of Ohioans support medical marijuana, lawmakers acted to head of a threatened ballot issue that promised more-relaxed access to medical marijuana.
However, citing a lack of money and other resouces, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana dropped its signature-gathering effort to put an issue on the Nov. 8 ballot after lawmakers approved the bill.
“This is a joyous day for the thousands of Ohioans who will finally be able to safely access much-needed medicine,” said Ohioans for Medical Marijuana spokesman Aaron Marshall. “We still have much work ahead of us to improve this imperfect law…”
By a near 2-to-1 margin, Ohioans voted last year to reject an issue to authorize the growth and sale of marijuana for medical and recreational use by a monopoly of the backers behind the issue.
Kasich also signed an address confidentiality bill championed by Secretary of State Jon Husted to allow victims of domestic violence and human trafficking to receive their mail through his office.