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Medical Marijuana Law Takes Effect Today

Sep 8, 2016

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana spokesperson Aaron Marshall
Credit Ohio Public Radio

The head of the state medical board says he won't participate in establishing rules for certifying doctors under Ohio's new medical marijuana law after taking on lobbying clients associated with the  industry.

Records reviewed by the Associated Press show Mike Gonidakis recently acquired two out-of-state marijuana-related clients. It's the second time in a month the president of Ohio Right to Life has said he'll step aside to avoid any appearance of a conflict. The state's medical marijuana law goes into effect today, but the process to obtain it will take years to complete. Still, doctors could give users some legal relief. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

One thing that could happen right away is doctors could write letters for patients who qualify so if they get caught with small amounts of marijuana before the law is fully implemented, they wouldn’t be prosecuted. But Aaron Marshall, a spokesman for a group that threatened to put the issue on the ballot before lawmakers acted, says it already looks like that might be a problem.

“Doctors are a little leery of recommending medical marijuana because it’s a new thing in this state and we really think the state medical board and the board of pharmacy need to provide some clear guidance to doctors and patients.”

But that guidance may not come for months or even a year. Marshall says experience with other states shows if doctors in Ohio don’t get on board immediately, doctors from other states will likely set up practice here. Marshall says if the state-run program runs into problems, his group could still work to put its own plan on the statewide ballot in the future.