Medical Marijuana Bill (HB 523) Passes in the Ohio House

House Bill 523, which would legalize medical marijuana in Ohio and establish rules to govern it, passed in the Ohio House 71-26 with bipartisan support. The bill moved to the Ohio Senate and now resides in the Senate Government Oversight & Reform Committee for consideration.

AMCNO President Dr. Robert Hobbs provided testimony in Columbus before the House Medicinal Marijuana Task Force and in Cleveland at a Senate Town Hall meeting concerning this legislation. In his testimony, Dr. Hobbs stated that as the debate on this issue continues in Ohio and at the federal level, the AMCNO has agreed to:

  • Oppose the recreational use of marijuana.
  • Support clinical research to explore the potential risks versus benefits of using marijuana or its component chemicals to treat specific medical conditions.
  • Support controlled medical use of pharmaceutical-grade marijuana or its component chemicals for treatment of those conditions which have been evaluated through Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved clinical research studies and have been shown to be appropriate.
  • Support the review and possible change of marijuana’s status from a federal Schedule I controlled substance with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines.
  • Support setting limitation on marijuana prescribing rights, if permitted, to physicians (MDs and DOs).
  • Oppose the legalization of marijuana except in the instance of appropriate evidence-based use approved by the FDA.

Rep. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), who sponsored the bill and is an emergency medicine physician, stressed the importance of putting the patient first with this legislation (and the AMCNO agrees), saying the bill is aimed at helping patients with serious conditions who benefit from this type of treatment. The bill also encourages more medical research into the drug, which is in line with the AMCNO’s stance.

Recent revisions to the bill included banning the smoking of marijuana for medicinal purposes, listing a number of conditions for which the drug could be recommended, and moving the proposed Medical Marijuana Control Commission from under the Department of Health to the Department of Commerce. The sub bill would also classify marijuana as a Schedule II drug in Ohio, and call for the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to make the drug Schedule II nationwide as well, so that the drug could be subject to research – which is also in line with the AMCNO position on this issue. 

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) said they expect the bill to be on Gov. John Kasich’s desk for approval before the legislature leaves for its summer break. If the bill passes, Ohio would become the 25th state to legalize the drug for medicinal purposes.

The Pollen Line is now closed. See you in the spring!

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