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Process Of Making Medical Marijuana Available In Ohio Just beginning

Medical marijuana has been legalized in Ohio, but signing the legislation is just the first step toward actually making it available. Ohio Public Radio's  Andy Chow explains.   

Democratic Senator Kenny Yuko of the Cleveland area is celebrating. After 13 years of working on the issue, his hope of legalizing medical marijuana has been achieved.  

“When I was first approached in 2003 about medical marijuana by my physician I took it with a smirk and a smile because I had never put those two words together.”  

Gov. John Kasich signing the bill into law is just the beginning. Now a committee made up of appointees from Kasich, Senate leaders and House leaders will write up the rules for growing and distributing.  

That committee has two years to get everything in place. But he says Ohioans should be able to legally use marijuana by the beginning of September. All they need to do is get their official recommendation from their doctor and go to a state that already legally distributes marijuana.  

 “Michigan or Pennsylvania. Get the product, come home, we’ll protect them with that card from law enforcement harassing them until we get our dispensaries up and running.”

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana was working on a ballot issue to legalize medical marijuana in the state constitution, but dropped their work after the bill passed. But the group’s Aaron Marshall says they’re going to keep a close eye on the implementation process.  

“We need to make sure that the promises embedded in House Bill 523 are lived up to. We need a low-cost system that people can access and people can afford.”

The bill creates the Medical Marijuana Control Program which will be run by the Ohio Department of Commerce and the State Board of Pharmacy. 

One stipulation clearly spelled out in the bill was that smoking medical marijuana will still be illegal and that it must be used with a vaporizer. 

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