Introduced less than two months ago on April 14th, Bill 523 made its way through Ohio’s House, Senate and was signed yesterday by Governor John Kasich. Kasich hasn’t always been a proponent of Medical Marijuana; however, after certain recent political whisperings, Kasich has turned a new leaf.
It’s anticipated that Bill 523 will go into effect somewhere near the beginning of September. We can expect full operation within two years. For now, with written permission from a licensed physician, Ohioans with a ‘qualifying medical condition’ can purchase, use and possess cannabis from an authorized retailer. They can also expect to be protected from prosecution under the law. While, of course, there are countless limiting provisions built into Bill 523, Kasich’s signature should be viewed as a step in the right direction.
So what exactly is a qualifying medical condition?
Any of the following:
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
- Crohn’s disease
- Epilepsy or another seizure disorder
- Hepatitis C
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Pain that is either of the following:
- Chronic and severe
- 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
- Ulcerative colitis
Patients should also be aware that despite having a legal-use card, employers can enforce a zero tolerance policy. Bill 523 has undergone pretty harsh criticism from some communities looking to protect the rights of card carrying employees. As with any new bill, Bill 523 is sure to see amendments. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana has already expressed its interest in proposed constitutional amendments. For the time being, we will be watching as Ohio transitions into its new role as a Medical Marijuana state.