DARKE COUNTY — Ohio’s new “Medical Marijuana” law takes effect beginning September 8, three months after being signed into law by Ohio Governor John Kasich.
While medical marijuana advocates celebrated Ohio’s move to lessen restrictions, Buckeye State residents have not yet been given the green light to “light up.”
The new law deems that medical marijuana will be only for the treatment of “qualifying medical conditions” and these conditions are strictly defined.
As the law goes into effect, these qualifying conditions currently include AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s Disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.
Individuals, however, may petition the State Medical Board to add a disease or condition to the list of qualifying medical conditions.
Further, medical marijuana users can only ingest the substance in the following forms: oils, tinctures, plant material, edibles, patches, and any other form approved by Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy. The law prohibits smoking or combustion of marijuana, but does allow for vaporization.
As well, physicians seeking to prescribe marijuana to their patients are held to restrictive standards.
A physician must first apply to the State Medical Board for a “certificate to recommend.” A physician who holds a certificate may recommend that a patient be treated with medical marijuana if the patient has been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition and a bona fide physician-patient relationship has been established through all of the following: an in-person physical examination of the patient by the physician; a review of the patient’s medical history by the physician; and an expectation of providing and receiving care on an ongoing basis.
In order to use, possess, or administer medical marijuana, a patient seeking to use medical marijuana or a caregiver seeking to assist a patient in the use of medical marijuana must apply to the Board of Pharmacy for registration. The physician who holds a certificate to recommend and is treating the patient must submit the application on the patient’s or caregiver’s behalf.
One question many may have is how the new law will affect employers. The answer is, for now, “very little.”
Employers are provided numerous protections under the new law. They may still prohibit marijuana use, in any form, by their current employees or new hires. The law clearly states that employers are under no obligation to permit or accommodate an employee’s use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana.
Further, a person discharged from employment because of his or her use of medical marijuana is considered to have been discharged for “just cause,” so long as the person’s use of medical marijuana violated an employer’s workplace policy. Thus, that person may be found ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.