Medical marijuana becomes legal in Ohio

Marijuana plants are seen July 24, 2017 at a laboratory in Natural Ventures in Caguas, Puerto Rico. Medical marijuana was legalized nearly two years ago in the U.S. territory via executive order, but it wasn’t until July that a new governor signed a law that formalizes the industry and provides legal backing that is much harder to overturn or amend than an executive order. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP/WCMH) — Thursday marked 90 days since Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law that legalizes medical marijuana.

You won’t be able to get the legal weed in the state anytime soon though. A lot of work has to implement the program before that happens.

The law allows patients to use marijuana in vapor form for certain chronic health conditions, but bars them from smoking it or growing it at home.

Kasich’s signature made Ohio the 25th state to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

Starting Thursday, cities and villages can move to ban dispensaries or limit the number of them.

WHO RECOMMENDS THE RULES FOR THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM?

A newly created Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee will help develop regulations and make recommendations. The governor and legislative leaders must appoint people to the 14-member panel no later than 30 days after the bill’s effective date. Its members will represent employers, labor, local law enforcement, caregivers, patients, agriculture, people involved in mental health treatment and people involved in the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction. Others include a nurse, academic researcher, two practicing pharmacists and two practicing physicians. No more than six members can be of the same political party. The bill dissolves the committee after five years and 30 days.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR RULES TO BE ADOPTED?

No longer than one year after the bill’s effective date. Rules for the licensing of cultivators must happen a few months earlier. The legislation specifies that the medical marijuana program is to be fully operational within two years of the bill.

WHO WILL REGULATE THE PROGRAM?

The Ohio Department of Commerce, State Medical Board and Board of Pharmacy will all play a role. The Commerce Department will oversee licensing of marijuana cultivators, processors and testing labs. The Pharmacy Board will license dispensaries and register patients and their caregivers, and set up a hotline to take questions from patients and caregivers. The Medical Board would issue certificates to physicians seeking to recommend treatment with medical marijuana.

WHAT CHANGES WOULD BE IN PLACE FIRST?

When the law takes effect in 90 days, cities and towns could move to ban dispensaries or limit the number of them. Licensed cultivators, processors, dispensaries and testing laboratories could not be within 500-feet of schools, churches, public libraries, playgrounds or parks. Employers could continue to enforce drug-testing policies and maintain drug-free workplaces. Banks that provide services to marijuana-related entities would be protected from criminal prosecution.