Medical marijuana legalization is one step closer in Ohio. In a 71-26 vote, the state’s House passed a bill allowing the use of cannabis for people with certain medical conditions.The bill’s primary sponsor, Representative Stephen Huffman, said the marijuana legislation is a direct reflection of the needs and desires of Ohio’s patients. He hopes the initiative will be the example other states will want to follow.

Medical marijuana use in Ohio

If the bill becomes law, a marijuana commission would be formed to write the guidelines for the program. Licenses for growing, testing, processing, and selling will be issued by the state.Only an approved doctor will be allowed to prescribe marijuana as a treatment. Nearly 20 medical conditions will qualify under the law.Smoking of the drug will be prohibited and municipalities will have the option to ban marijuana businesses. Employers can still enforce drug-free policies and anyone terminated for cannabis use cannot collect unemployment benefits.

Ohio’s medical marijuana vote

Reluctant at first to support the legislation, Representative Tim Brown changed his stance on cannabis for medical purposes after hearing testimony from patients about the benefits of the drug. He thinks that patients who have access to marijuana oil or pills are less likely to use highly addictive opiate prescriptions.Representative Teresa Fedor opposed the bill, saying the language is discriminatory.

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She disagrees with the law’s unfair treatment of patients fired from their job for marijuana use.

Medical marijuana advocacy group Ohioans for Medical Marijuana wants the bill expanded to include more medical conditions. They are also campaigning to have the measure modified to allow patients to smoke and grow weed.Now that the proposed medical marijuana legislation has passed the House, it will now go to Ohio’s Senate.

Most likely the bill will go through some changes, but most expect it to be on Governor John Kasich’s desk sometime in June for review.

According to recent polling data, 90 percent of Ohio residents want medical marijuana legalized in some form and 52 percent say they would support recreational use. Even if the bill passes the Senate, voters will still need to approve the initiative in November.

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