Ohio Gov. Kasich signs bill to legalize medical marijuana


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio became the latest state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana after Republican Gov. John Kasich signed legislation Wednesday.

The law allows people to use the drug in vapor form for certain chronic health conditions, while barring patients from smoking marijuana or growing it at home.

Kasich’s signature makes Ohio the 25th state to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program, according to a count by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Ohio’s bill drew both support and opposition from Republicans and Democrats when it cleared the legislature late last month. Lawmakers had moved quickly on the measure as they looked to offset support for a proposed fall ballot issue. The group behind the ballot effort has since dropped its plan and called the legislation “a step forward.”

Kasich signed the legislation in private. His office announced it in a press release.

The law is slated to take effect in 90 days, though the medical marijuana program won’t be up and running by then. It’s expected to be fully operational in about two years.

The Ohio Department of Commerce, State Medical Board and Board of Pharmacy will all play a role in regulating medical marijuana and those who cultivate, test, use and dispense it.

Employers could continue to enforce drug-testing policies and maintain drug-free workplaces.

Towns could move to ban dispensaries or limit the number of them. The bill also sets some parameters for dispensaries, cultivators and testing laboratories. They could not be located within 500-feet of schools, churches, public libraries, playgrounds or parks.

By Ann Sanner

Associated Press

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