Congressional memo highlights marijuana momentum in 2021, sets priorities for reform in 2022

The Ohio Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would dramatically expand the state’s medical marijuana program by allowing doctors to recommend cannabis to patients who “can reasonably be expected” to benefit from it. , in addition to making other changes.

Senator Steve Huffman (right) is sponsoring the legislation, which cleared the chamber in a 26-5 vote. The bill, which is one of many cannabis reform proposals that have been presented to the Legislative Assembly this session, will now be submitted to the House for consideration.

The measure bill also seeks to streamline the regulatory structure of Ohio’s medical marijuana system. It would do so in part by creating a Marijuana Control Division within the Department of Commerce to oversee the program, which is currently regulated by the Board of Pharmacy.

Watch the Senate vote on the medical cannabis bill at around 2:23:45 a.m. in the video below:

“This bill is not about whether we have a medical marijuana program in Ohio, but it’s about making it business friendly and improving what we did there. five years, “Huffman said Wednesday. “This bill is the result of immense work, hard work, on the part of healthcare providers, patients and industry advocates.”

“Now is the time to make some improvements to the program with the aim of streamlining the rules and regulations,” he said. “I hope the legislation will bring free market principles to highly regulated businesses.”

Under the measure, the division would be responsible for authorizing at least one retail dispensary per 1,000 patients “up to the first 300,000 registered patients, and then adding additional retail dispensaries as needed,” according to one. to analyse.

Dispensaries would also be allowed to advertise, including on social media, without receiving approval from the division.

A new “stand-alone processor” license category would be established. And there would be “two levels of cultivator licenses, level I cultivating up to 50,000 square feet and level II cultivating up to 6,000 square feet.”

The bill would also allow dispensaries to sell a wide range of cannabis products, including pills, oral sprays, lotions and “similar items.” Additionally, the THC limit for concentrates would be increased from 70 to 90 percent.

Doctors could also issue recommendations on medical marijuana via telemedicine.

Senatorial Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D), co-sponsor of the bill, said on Wednesday he continued to “hear from people everywhere people have thanked us for what we have done here at the General Assembly of Ohio bringing in medical supplies, but you know we’ve got so far to go.

“We don’t treat it like medicine. We always treat it like it’s a joke, and it’s not a joke, ”he said. “It has the potential to prevent children from having another seizure, the next seizure we are experiencing could cause permanent brain damage or death. This will prevent Afghan veterans from returning from the war with PTSD. It can help our parents and grandparents and maybe people my age get stomach cancers and others that might make us feel in such excruciating pain that they don’t want to live anymore.

Meanwhile, two Republican lawmakers in Ohio tabled a bill this month to legalize marijuana for adult use in the state.

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Representatives Jamie Callender (R) and Ron Ferguson (R) first announced their intention to push forward the law reform proposal in October and circulated a co-sponsorship note to build support for the measure.

The bill would allow adults 21 and over to purchase and possess up to 50 grams of cannabis. They could also grow up to six plants, only three of which could be mature, for personal use.

Additionally, the legislation includes a section that would require the state to formally approve a congressional bill to deprogram marijuana sponsored by Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH).

A separate state legalization bill, the first of its kind to be introduced to the Ohio legislature earlier this year, would similarly legalize the possession, sale and cultivation of cannabis by adults. . It is defended by Reps Casey Weinstein (D) and Terrence Upchurch (D), and it includes strikeout provisions.

A recent legislative inquiry found that Republican lawmakers across the state are more supportive of legalizing marijuana than their fellow Democrats.

But the leadership of the legislature, along with Gov. Mike DeWine (R), will likely present obstacles for any leisure legalization bill that moves forward.

House Speaker Robert Cupp (right) laughed when asked about Callender’s legislation after his initial announcement, though he added: ‘Let’s just see where this goes. I haven’t read it yet.

Callender said that while Republican legislative leaders and the governor are not yet in agreement, “there is more bipartisan support than most people realize.”

The moves come as activists near the end of the first phase of their signature campaign for a cannabis legalization initiative.

The measure would force lawmakers to consider a proposal to legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older, and they could also have up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrate. Individuals could grow up to six plants for their own use, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.

Activists must collect 132,887 valid signatures from voters registered for the statutory initiative during this first phase of the effort. If successful, the legislator will then have four months to adopt the measure, reject it or adopt a modified version. If lawmakers do not pass the proposal, then organizers will need to collect an additional 132,887 signatures to place the proposal in front of voters on the ballot in November 2022.

Further demonstrating the appetite for reform in Ohio, voters in seven cities approved voting measures to decriminalize possession of marijuana in last month’s election.

Ohio marijuana activists have also successfully proven that they have handed over enough valid signatures to present a local decriminalization initiative to voters in Kent after missing the 2021 ballot due to a verification error. from county officials.

Youth Marijuana Use “Decreased Significantly” in 2021 Despite State Reforms, Federally Funded Survey Says

Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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