Pubdate: Fri, 27 May 2016
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2016 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Alan Johnson

Legal Cultivation


Marijuana plants could be growing legally in Ohio soil in a year, 
predicts state Sen. Dave Burke, an architect of Ohio's newly minted 
medical marijuana law.

"As soon as 16 months, you would have products tested and available," 
the Marysville Republican said.

House Bill 523, the medical marijuana law, completed a rocky journey 
through the legislature Wednesday. It is now headed to Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich has not indicated whether he will sign the bill into law. He 
also could veto it or allow it to take effect without his signature.

"We expect to receive a number of bills over the next couple of weeks 
and we're going to carefully review each one of them," Kasich 
spokesman Joe Andrews said. The Republican governor has expressed 
general support for medical marijuana, but has not addressed the specific bill.

If Kasich signs the law, it will establish an extensive, highly 
regulated "seed to sale" system for growing, processing, testing and 
dispensing marijuana for people with any of 20 specified medical 
diseases and conditions. Patients could receive a 90-day supply of 
marijuana edibles, patches, oils, and plant material. Vaporizing 
marijuana would be permitted, but smoking would not.

That won't happen overnight. While Burke says the system could be up 
and running in 16 months, other lawmakers say it will be more like 
two years, one year to set up the rules and another to implement them.

Things now move forward on two fronts: the state begins establishing 
a regulatory network, while Ohioans for Medical Marijuana continues 
pushing to get its own marijuana plan on the Nov. 8 ballot as a 
constitutional amendment.

Aaron Marshall, spokesman for the ballot issue, said the campaign 
will continue regardless of the state legislation. The group must 
file 305,591 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters by July 6 to 
qualify for the ballot.

Marshall said the ballot issue would get marijuana to patients as 
fast if not faster than the state law, especially given it would 
allow people to grow up to six marijuana plants in their home. The 
new law does not allow home-grown pot. The amendment would also allow 
smoking marijuana.

If the amendment passes, that generally would trump the state law.

Here's what happens next on the state front:

Three different agencies, the Ohio Department of Commerce, the Ohio 
Pharmacy Board, and the Ohio Medical Board, must set up rules 
entirely new to Ohio. The rules must then be reviewed by the Joint 
Committee and Agency Rule Review, a legislative panel.

Commerce will be in charge of overseeing marijuana cultivation, 
processing and testing. The Pharmacy Board will regulate 
dispensaries. The Medical Board will register doctors who prescribe 
medical marijuana to patients.

In addition, a new 12-member appointed committee will advise all 
agencies as the process moves forward.

Despite the extensive work to be done, Burke said, "A year from now, 
I would expected cultivator licenses to be granted and you will have 
plants in the ground."

Burke said the legislation does not establish specific numbers for 
marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries.

"We want to keep access available, but these aren't going to be 
McDonald's. That was not our goal."

Marijuana could be prescribed for patients with these illnesses and 
conditions: HIV/AIDS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; cancer; chronic 
traumatic encephalopathy; Crohn's disease; epilepsy or seizure 
disorder; glaucoma; hepatitis C; inflammatory bowel disease; multiple 
sclerosis; pain that is chronic, severe and intractable; Parkinson's 
disease; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spinal 
cord disease or injury; Tourette's syndrome; traumatic brain injury; 
ulcerative colitis; Alzheimer's; and fibromyalgia.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom