The legalization of medical marijuana has been a widely anticipated topic that many Ohioans have been anxious to voice their opinions on.
Many took that opportunity last November with the recreational marijuana initiative that appeared on the Ohio ballot. Unfortunately, the drafters of that initiative based the proposed policy largely on the creation of protected monopolies, a provision that would only hurt Ohio’s businesses and economy. Rightfully so, Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.
Despite the results of the ballot initiative, many Ohioans are still supportive of approving the use of medical marijuana to help address the healthcare needs of thousands of individuals who suffer from relentless pain. However, establishing such a program requires a thoughtful approach and thorough research to ensure the program is effective without unforeseen consequences.
The best way to accomplish this is through the legislative process as opposed to a ballot initiative. For that reason, the Ohio legislature recently approved House Bill 523, which will put in place a regulated and effective medical marijuana program for our state. Pursuing this issue through legislation, as opposed to a ballot initiative, gives lawmakers more flexibility to address any issues or concerns that may arise in the future.
Throughout the process for considering this legislation, we as lawmakers heard numerous testimonials from veterans suffering from PTSD, mothers who have tried every possible remedy for their epileptic children, individuals who are suffering from debilitating diseases and many more. We also heard input from experts from Colorado, Michigan, Connecticut and other states that have legalized marijuana to varying degrees. These first-hand accounts were relied upon heavily in drafting, and ultimately passing, the best possible medical marijuana law.
By establishing the Medical Marijuana Control Commission, Ohio will now have a strict regulatory framework surrounding the legalization of medical marijuana to help patients, while still ensuring that the product does not become negligently abused. Additionally, the legislation provides certain protections for Ohio employers so the safety of their workforce is not compromised due to an employee’s use of medical marijuana.
As the program is established within the next two years, I am confident that the parameters and safeguards included in this legislation will help establish, what I believe will be, the best medical marijuana program in the nation.
If you have questions or would like more information regarding the program as it becomes established, please do not hesitate to contact my office at Rep40@ohiohouse.gov, or (614)644-8051.
Reach Mike Henne at (614) 644-8051.