Gov. John Kasich Signs Bill 523 To Legalize Medical Marijuana In Ohio

Val Powell - Author

Jun. 9 2016, Updated 10:25 a.m. ET

Gov. John Kasich made it seem like just another day at the office, signing House Bill 523 that effectively legalized medical marijuana in the state of Ohio.

Of course, the significance of the signing is not lost on everybody else, as he finally ended months of speculation about Ohio joining other states in adopting a medical marijuana program. To date, there are 24 states that have legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Only Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C., have approved marijuana for creational use.

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“Kasich’s communications team announced the signing without any comment, simply including it in a list with several other bills the governor also signed Wednesday,” Cleveland.comnoted. “The new law goes into effect 90 days after the bill is officially filed with the Secretary of State, making marijuana legal sometime in early September.”

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To dampen the media attention surrounding the new law, Gov. John Kasich opted to forego a public signing.

It’s understandable that the governor would avoid any fanfare considering that he was staunchly against the proposal during his presidential campaign trail last year. According to his spokesman, Joe Andrews, John Kasich “doesn’t feel that medical marijuana is the answer” since he’s consulted with several doctors who told him that there are viable alternatives to the drug.

However, there are strict measures in place to ensure that the medical marijuana law won’t be abused. For instance, the Ohio State Pharmacy Board, Department of Commerce, and State Medical Board have been tasked to oversee its implementation. They will also study any guideline to be submitted by an advisory board, which is comprised of 14 members.

Also, Ohio residents are prohibited from planting cannabis at home, even for medical purposes, as well as smoking the weed. However, they are allowed to use it in the form of vapors, oils, and tinctures, which will be sold at licensed dispensaries.

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A list of conditions was also outlined in the bill signed by Gov. John Kasich, which permits the use of medical marijuana.

  • ALS
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy or other seizure disorders
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hepatitis C
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Spinal cord disease or injury

Patients who suffer from chronic and severe pain will be permitted to use medical marijuana as long as they have the consent of a medical doctor.

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Proponents of medical marijuana, however, think that the bill signed by Gov. John Kasich is already diluted and very inclusive when the state could have done more for the patients.

House Bill 523 sailed through both chambers in just a little over a month on the threat of another ballot measure and intensified public pressure. Soon after, the Marijuana Policy Project came along and unified the advocacy for medical cannabis in Ohio.

A survey among Ohioans revealed that the legalization of medical marijuana received 90 percent approval, while recreational marijuana got far less support from residents.

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Mason Tvert, the spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project said, “We are committed to bringing a responsible medical marijuana initiative to the state and working with patients, advocates and professionals in Ohio to make that happen.”

Meanwhile, the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana welcomed the signing of the bill by Gov. John Kasich.

“This is a joyous day for the thousands of Ohioans who will finally be able to safely access much-needed medicine. We plan on working to better this program, utilizing our amendment as a road map for those improvements,” the group’s spokesman, Aaron Marshall, said.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]


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