Two Republican state lawmakers in Ohio have launched a invoice to revamp the state’s medical marijuana legal guidelines that will create a brand new state company to supervise this system and permit extra sufferers to make use of hashish medicinally. The measure, Senate Bill 9, was launched by state Senators Steve Huffman and Kirk Schuring on January 11 and on Tuesday was referred to a legislative committee for consideration. The invoice is much like one other proposal from the final legislative session, Senate Invoice 261, that failed to realize approval within the Ohio Home of Representatives after passing within the Senate in December 2021.
Each items of laws try and replace Ohio’s medical marijuana regulation, which was handed by the Normal Meeting and signed into regulation in 2016. Beneath the brand new invoice, a brand new state company, the Division of Marijuana Management, could be created as a part of the Ohio Division of Commerce to manage the state’s medical marijuana program. The laws additionally creates a 13-member fee answerable for oversight of the brand new company and the medical program. Beneath present regulation, the state’s medical marijuana program is overseen by the Ohio Division of Commerce, the State Medical Board of Ohio and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
“What we’ve discovered is that most of the growers wish to broaden and develop extra,” Huffman said in a statement quoted by native media. “There’s extra growers, there’s extra demand. They put an software into the Division of Commerce, and it sits there for 18 months, two years. Hopefully this takes the paperwork out of this and streamlines issues and make it a better-functioning business.”
Ohio Invoice Provides New Qualifying Circumstances
Senate Invoice 9 would additionally add autism spectrum dysfunction, arthritis, migraines, persistent muscle spasms and opioid use dysfunction to the state’s checklist of medical circumstances that qualify a affected person to make use of hashish medicinally. Presently, the checklist of qualifying circumstances contains greater than two dozen severe medical circumstances together with most cancers, persistent ache, AIDS, Parkinson’s illness, PTSD and terminal diseases.
The measure additionally permits medical marijuana use by sufferers who produce other debilitating medical circumstances that may be handled with medicinal hashish, as decided by their doctor. The sooner invoice had the same provision, permitting sufferers to make use of medical hashish if a health care provider decides that “the affected person’s signs might fairly be anticipated to be relieved from medical marijuana.”
In a committee listening to on Senate Invoice 9 held on Tuesday, Huffman and Schuring instructed their colleagues that many medical marijuana sufferers in Ohio are crossing state strains to acquire hashish from neighboring states with extra liberal marijuana legal guidelines. As of Januray 1, ore than half of the greater than 320,000 sufferers who’ve registered within the historical past of Ohio’s medical marijuana program, solely about 164,000 had an energetic physician’s suggestion and affected person registration, based on data from state regulators.
“The biggest dispenser for Ohioans is in Michigan,” Huffman said in testimony Tuesday. “We have to flip that round, and make it extra pleasant, so individuals come right here and so they have a protected, viable product.”
Senate Invoice 261 additionally would have allowed the state’s licensed medical marijuana cultivators to broaden their rising operations. Though the provisions to extend the sq. footage of allowable cultivation area usually are not included within the new invoice, Huffman mentioned he’s open to amending the laws so as to add the elevated rising space.
“In my discussions with Sen. Schuring, we felt this is able to be a constructive transfer and constructive change for the business,” Huffman mentioned. “On the similar time hopefully members of the Home can be snug with it.”
Leisure Marijuana Proposal Beneath Consideration
Ohio lawmakers are additionally contemplating a invoice that will legalize leisure marijuana within the state. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Frank LaRose reintroduced the proposal, which might legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and levy a ten% tax on business hashish merchandise. Activists had hoped the measure would seem on the poll for the November midterm election, however authorized challenges prompted delays that led to an settlement with state officers to revisit the difficulty this 12 months. If the state legislature doesn’t approve the measure inside 4 months, the Coalition To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the group spearheading the legalization effort, can accumulate signatures to place the proposal earlier than the voters within the fall.
Regardless of the adult-use hashish legalization invoice, Huffman, who’s a doctor, mentioned that he’s nonetheless eager about bettering the state’s medical marijuana program. If leisure marijuana is legalized, he mentioned it might create an setting with out “a lot of a medical marijuana business.”
“This invoice, to me, is just not a lot concerning the poll initiative, however to make the business as greatest as we are able to,” Huffman mentioned.
Trent Woloveck, the chief technique officer of Jushi, a vertically built-in, multistate hashish operator that final week opened Past Hi there Cincinnati, the corporate’s first medical marijuana dispensary in Ohio, known as on state lawmakers to approve Senate Invoice 9 in an announcement to Excessive Occasions.
“If handed, SB 9 will make protected, examined medical hashish merchandise accessible to extra Ohioans by increasing qualifying circumstances, authorizing further administration types and codifying mechanisms to permit accountable, incremental business progress,” mentioned Woloveck. “In the end, the modifications proposed in SB 9 will facilitate a steady provide chain, scale back product costs and customarily profit Ohio sufferers.”
Senate Invoice 9 has been referred to the Senate Normal Authorities Committee for consideration. At a listening to on Tuesday, the Republican chair of the panel, Senator Michael Rulli, mentioned that the committee would transfer shortly on the invoice.