Ohio Governor John Kasich has signed House Bill 523 authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In doing so, the Governor sets in motion various regulatory processes to create a system allowing specifically licensed physicians to issue prescriptions for medical marijuana within the state. The bill:
- Calls for establishment of the Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) and the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee (MMAC) within 30 days of the Bill’s effective date (September 8, 2016) to help develop regulations for medical marijuana cultivation and a dispensary framework.
- Delegates oversight and administrative responsibilities as follow:
- The Ohio Department of Commerce will oversee the licensing of marijuana cultivators, processors and testing labs.
- The Board of Pharmacy will license dispensaries and register patients.
- The Board of Medicine will issue certificates to approved prescribers.
- Creates a two year time-frame by which the regulatory process is to be completed and the medical marijuana program fully operational.
- Grants cities and towns throughout the state a 90-day period in which to take action to either ban or limit the number of dispensaries within their borders.
- Does not permit patients to smoke marijuana, but medical marijuana products can be vaporized, ingested or used in various forms such as oil, patch or tincture.
- Prohibits dispensaries from being located less than 500 feet from a school, church, public library, playground or park.
- States that patients may not possess more than a 90-day supply at any given time.
When the rulemaking process is complete, patients with one of the more than twenty qualifying medical conditions will be permitted to obtain medical marijuana from state-approved prescribers and dispensaries located in Ohio.
Of significance to workers’ compensation, the bill prohibits workers prescribed medical marijuana from suing an employer for adverse employment actions based upon established drug-free workplace policies, and protects the employer’s ability to deny a workers’ compensation claim based upon a violation of said workplace policies. The legislation is silent regarding reimbursement requirements or exemptions for workers’ compensation insurers or employers.
The final version of HB523 can be found here. For additional information or questions regarding this or other legislative and regulatory matters, please contact Brian Allen, Vice President of Government Affairs, at 801-661-2922 or via email at Brian.Allen@optum.com.