Medical Marijuana Laws In Ohio And What You Need To Know
After many delays from red tape, Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Program finally began sales in January 2019. What’s prohibited verses permissible under Ohio’s medical marijuana laws can be quite confusing. Some components conflict with other law, and some causes gray areas that can lead to criminal charges. It is important to understand Ohio’s marijuana laws and the potential problems medical marijuana users may still face.
The Basics Of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Laws
There are 21 qualifying conditions under which a doctor can prescribe medical marijuana:
Traumatic brain injury
Spinal cord disease/injury
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Sickle cell anemia
The prescribing doctor must be approved by the State Board of Ohio, have a doctor-patient relationship, review the patient’s past prescriptions, and inform the patient of risks verses benefits in using cannabis to treat their condition.
Patients and caregivers must register to receive registry cards and photo IDs through the State Board of Pharmacy to purchase, hold, and use medical cannabis. The cards are valid for a year and must be shown to licensed Ohio dispensaries at the point of purchase. Such dispensaries are the only way to obtain legal medical marijuana since it remains illegal to grow or cultivate marijuana at home, even for medical marijuana purposes by licensed patients.
Medical marijuana patients and caregivers are permitted to buy/possess no more than a 90-day supply of cannabis. State law only permits medical marijuana in forms that can be vaporized, meaning oils, ointments, flammables, patches, and so forth aren’t “legal forms.” Still, in the first two weeks of the program’s sales, 70 pounds of medical marijuana, which amounts to roughly $500,000, was sold. By the end of the month, sales surpassed the million-dollar mark.
Ironically, the program initially conflicted with its own stipulations; the only type of cannabis the program made available to its handful of dispensaries was in the “flower form.” The program also initially saw exorbitant pricing due to having only 14 operational cultivators. The supply and demand left patients paying $50 per 2.83 grams of flower, which is the pre-packaged “Ohio-tenth” amount the law requires the product to be sold. These prices are expected to lower as the program folds in more cultivators.
In addition to patients and caregivers having stipulations on where, how much, and in what form they can buy medical marijuana, the law also mandates that users may not operate equipment (vehicles, aircraft, boats) while medicated. The product must always also be kept in its original packaging.
Ohio Medical Marijuana Laws and Potential Legal Problems for Patients
Of course, there will be inevitable conflict in enforcing the above laws, especially given that the federal government and other states have conflicting ones of their own that leave overlapping and gray areas.
Having a criminal record and/or being on probation does not prohibit a patient from becoming a registered medical marijuana user. It does, however, prohibit such individuals from becoming registered caregivers. That said, those on federal probation should always consult an attorney since mandated drug testing by a federal court would likely be problematic.
DUI is one of the biggest gray areas due to the biological differences in how the human body processes cannabis. Long after the intoxicating effects are gone, drug tests still pick up the presence of cannabis for days to weeks. This leaves law enforcement to often make subjective DUI/OVI speculations about both cannabis intoxication and associated levels. Ohio law sets such DUI levels at 50 nanograms of marijuana per ml of blood and 35 nanograms of urine.
CBD retail sales can be another potential issue. While the non-psychoactive compound is the same that’s found in marijuana, state and federal laws regarding it greatly differ from hemp.
Neighboring states without legalization laws for medical marijuana are also a potential source of conflict. Registered medical marijuana users in Ohio could be charged with a federal and/or state drug crime by entering other states, such as Indiana, if they’re in possession of what’s a legal medication for them in their home state.
State-legalized or not, federal law maintains that marijuana is an illegal substance. Enforcement becomes a major concern when entering federal properties like state parks, crossing state lines, or when other federal crimes or regulations are also involved. Of course, an array of potential federal charges is also a concern for dispensary businesses and cultivators.
While Ohio law continues to deem recreation marijuana use illegal, it has relaxed its laws for small-volume possession, first-time offenses, and non-violent offenses. Less than 100 grams of marijuana flower is a minor misdemeanor involving a small fine, and this doesn’t go on a criminal record. Larger quantities equal a misdemeanor, and felony charges begin at 200 grams of flower, 10 grams of solid, or 2 grams of liquid. Misdemeanor marijuana charges involve up to a $250 fine and 30 days in jail, but felony charges can mean up to a year in jail. Individual cites have adopted ordinances to reduce Ohio’s recreational drug charges; Cincinnati, for example, doesn’t prosecute nor fine for marijuana possession unless the individual has more than 100 grams.
Ohio’s complex medical marijuana laws are still in their infancy. There’s a lot of kinks to be worked out in both implementation of what’s allowable and enforcement of what’s prohibited, and many medical marijuana patients are likely to get caught in the caveats while lawmakers sort it all out. For those needing more insight on Ohio’s marijuana laws, we invite you to contact Spaulding & Kitzler, experienced attorneys today!