On September 8, a new Ohio marijuana law will make it legal for some Ohioans to possess and use marijuana for medical purposes. House Bill 523, which Governor Kasich signed into law in June, sets up a transitional phase in the implementation of Ohio’s medical marijuana system. While possessing marijuana will be technically legal for medical marijuana patients, there still won’t be any legal place to buy it.
House Bill 523 contains a provision creating an affirmative defense temporarily available to people who get charged with possessing marijuana. In criminal law, an affirmative defense occurs when a defendant claims that he or she was legally entitled to committing the offense, instead of claiming that he or she didn’t do it. For instance, people charged with assault can either deny that the assault occurred or claim that they were acting in self-defense. The latter strategy is called an affirmative defense.
How Does The New Ohio Marijuana Law Protect People From Possession Charges?
According to section 6(A) of House Bill 523, a person can escape marijuana possession charges only if he or she can provide a written statement from a physician certifying all of the following:
- That a real doctor-patient relationship exists between the physician and the defendant
- The defendant has been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition
- The physician has requested a report from the Ohio drug database that reaches at least one year prior to the report’s date of issuance
- The physician has told the defendant about the risks and benefits of using marijuana to treat the medical condition
- The physician believes that the benefits of marijuana outweigh the risks in the defendant’s case.
This affirmative defense will be available starting September 8, and until 60 days after the State Board of Pharmacy begins accepting applications for medical marijuana licenses. No one known exactly when that will happen, so the House Bill 523 affirmative defense may be relevant for months to come.
Who Can Benefit From Ohio’s New Medical Marijuana Law?
According to House Bill 523, only people with the qualifying medical conditions below can use medical marijuana legally:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)
- Crohn’s disease
- Epilepsy or another seizure disorder
- Hepatitis C
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sickle cell anemia
- Spinal cord disease or injury,
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Traumatic brain injury
- Ulcerative colitis.
Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Framework is Pushing Honest Citizens Into Illegality
Unlike in more permissive states like California, people with anorexia, persistent headaches, or any other condition that significantly impacts their quality of life will have to operate outside of the law in order to treat their conditions. Until Ohio’s medical marijuana dispensaries open their doors, people seeking to treat themselves will need to violate federal law by transporting marijuana across state lines, or face the risk of purchasing their buds on Ohio’s black market.
Our Marijuana Defense Lawyers Are Here to Help
At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we are dedicated to fighting for the rights of Ohio’s medical marijuana users. We’re closely observing the development of Ohio’s medical marijuana legal landscape to better serve our clients who may face criminal charges for using their medicine.
If you’ve been charged with possessing marijuana, call us today at (614) 500-3836 for your free and confidential consultation.