HB 597 Would Limit Ohio Medical Marijuana Program’s Reciprocity With Other States

Call Your Local Represenative & Tell Them You OPPOSE HB 597!

 

Medical marijuana patient ID cards from most other states would not be accepted here under a new bill — the first attempt to tweak Ohio’s new law.

But a legislator who worked on the medical marijuana law said the new bill is premature and seeks to address a problem that doesn’t exist.

Ohio law calls for the state to enter into reciprocity agreements with medical marijuana states that have similar patient eligibility requirements. That would mean Ohio patients could use their state-issued patient ID cards to use medical marijuana in other legal states and vice versa.

House Bill 597 would limit those states to those that don’t allow marijuana to be smoked or grown at home since Ohio’s law prohibits both practices. Neighboring Michigan allows both.

The bill’s sole sponsor Rep. Kyle Koehler, a Springfield Republican, said Thursday the legislation was not intended to hurt Ohio patients.

He said the reciprocity language in Ohio law creates a loophole for an Ohio patient to go to Colorado, buy a marijuana plant, bring it back to Ohio and smoke it. In that scenario, Koehler said, the patient could use the reciprocity agreement as a defense.

“If someone is smoking and growing we’re not going to do reciprocity with them,” Koehler said.

But that activity is already illegal under state law, said fellow Republican Sen. Dave Burke of Marysville. Burke, a pharmacist who spearheaded the Senate GOP medical marijuana effort, said reciprocity doesn’t give patients a free pass to choose which law to follow — they must follow Ohio law when in Ohio.

“I can use my Ohio driver’s license to drive 90 miles per hour on a highway in Alaska if that’s legal there, but my Alaska license in the inverse doesn’t mean I can come to Ohio and drive 90 miles per hour,” Burke said.

 

What’s reciprocity? 

Each of the 25 medical marijuana states operates its own program under its own rules. Most states do not allow out-of-state patients to buy and use marijuana within their borders.

Ohio lawmakers wanted to make sure out-of-state medical marijuana patients visiting Ohio or receiving treatment at a hospital here could continue to use their medicine without penalty. Likewise, Ohio patients could continue their use while visiting another state.

Ohio’s medical marijuana law doesn’t  automatically accept patient ID cards from all medical marijuana states. Instead, it requires the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy to make a “good faith” effort to enter into reciprocity agreements with states that meet two criteria:

  1. The state’s eligibility agreements, including qualifying medical conditions, are substantially comparable to Ohio’s.
  2. The state will recognize Ohio’s patient IDs.

 

How would reciprocity work? 

The short answer to that question (and many others about Ohio’s law): We don’t know.

At least eight of the 25 medical marijuana states offer some legal protections for patient cardholders from other states. Generally, that means out-of-state patients can’t buy marijuana at dispensaries but won’t be arrested for possessing it. Four states and the District of Columbia allow adults over age 21 to buy and possess marijuana for any purpose.

Burke said lawmakers also intended to apply reciprocity to doctors, which he said the state medical board will sort out. So if an Ohio patient saw a specialist in another state, that doctor’s recommendation could meet the law’s requirements.

“What if your world-renowned neurologist is in Colorado — are we going to say you’re not going to see that doctor? Or if there’s an oil from a special strain grown in Washington state, you can’t have access to that product simply because Washington allows smoking and homegrow?” Burke said. “We feel [reciprocity] is a good thing for both physicians and patients.”

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