By Aaron Marshall
With the Ohio House voting to approve legislation purporting to offer patients access to medical marijuana, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana released a statement rejecting the narrow measure.
“It’s a shame lawmakers couldn’t have made history with a vote on a substantive and meaningful medical marijuana bill,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “Today’s vote will only bring false hope and empty promises to Ohioans suffering from debilitating conditions who need medical marijuana.”
The House legislation suffers from numerous fundamental flaws that would restrict patient access and would take up to two years to be implemented. In addition, the House version leaves many critical decisions to an unelected board that could be stacked with persons openly hostile to medical marijuana. In contrast, the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana amendment provides access to medical marijuana for thousands of Ohioans immediately upon passage through an affirmative defense and home grow clause and has clear language spelling out regulatory aspects of the plan.
“Patients will be forced to wait two more years under this plan for a limited and restrictive system that ties doctors’ hands with red tape,” Marshall said. “We plan to continue our effort to give Ohioans the opportunity to help hundreds of thousands of Buckeyes through our ballot issue.”
Provisions in the revised legislation require doctors to recommend types of medical marijuana with specific THC levels for patients. “These kinds of provisions risk putting doctors at odds with federal law, and throw up significant roadblocks to patient access,” said Marshall. A similar provision in New York’s two year old program has been a key factor in why only 556 doctors out of 90,000 in the state have agreed to see medical marijuana patients.
Beyond the many onerous provisions placed on doctors and patients and a restriction on how medical marijuana may be used, the newest version of the legislation lists only 20 medical conditions under which patients would qualify for medical marijuana.
The state ballot issue being sought by Ohioans for Medical Marijuana includes a more extensive list with agitations of Alzheimer’s disease, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behaviors, severe fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy and Huntington’s Disease as well as diseases that cause muscle spasms, wasting syndrome and severe nausea all being covered.
“If they are going to use the threat of our ballot issue to pass a bill through the House, it should be a patient-focused plan that will actually provide medical marijuana to those in need,” Marshall added.