Ohioian’s have Affirmative Defense with the new Medical Marijuana Program

Medical marijuana is now legal in Ohio, but the law is silent on where residents can become patients and then obtain medical marijuana for medicinal purposes.  It is going to take a year or two before the market is created & setup and there is product available to be sold.

Ohio’s new medical marijuana law, HB 523 gives patients an “affirmative defense” against a drug charge, if they have a doctor’s note and meet other criteria including suffering from one of the conditions on the approved list. But patients haven’t had much luck obtaining such notes ahead of the law’s effective date today, another example to add to the law’s long list of unknowns.

The affirmative defense only protects patients using one of the forms described in the law: Marijuana-infused edibles, tinctures, oils, patches and plant material. The law prohibits smoking marijuana and allows vaping, but the final list of approved forms and methods will be decided by the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy.

Reggie Fields with the Ohio State Medical Board said. “The affirmative defense piece allows a doctor to certify a person has a condition but there’s no real system in place to outline exactly what that certification process is & there’s still not a formal standard of care for using medical marijuana in Ohio.”

Republican State Rep. Kirk Schuring, who sponsored the medical marijuana legislation, said the program could be fully operational in less than two years and that lawmakers included the affirmative defense measure in the bill so patients, who would qualify under the Ohio program, would not be punished for possessing cannabis while the infrastructure was being set up.

“We’re building a whole new industry from the bottom up,” Schuring said in the report. “A lot of rules have to be promulgated, which will take a significant amount of time.”

While affirmative defense may help in court, it will not prevent an initial arrest.

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