On May 25, 2016, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 523 (HB 523), which legalizes the use of particular forms of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions. Governor John Kasich signed the bill into law on June 8, 2016, and it went into effect on September 8, 2016. While most medical marijuana facilities are still under construction as of this date, the Ohio patient registry is open and accepting new registrations by physicians certified to recommend medical marijuana.
As a way to protect registered patients, designated caregivers, and parents or guardians of minor patients who use marijuana, HB 523 created an affirmative defense against criminal liability for certain marijuana-related crimes if they have a certified physician’s recommendation. According to the law, a patient, caregiver, parent or guardian can raise an affirmative defense if they have, among other requirements, received a written recommendation from a physician that certifies that the patient has met all required medical and legal criteria, and is offered as a vehicle to protect patients from a conviction related to the possession of marijuana.
Having said that, if a law enforcement official discovers marijuana during the course of a traffic stop or investigation, a patient holding an Affirmative Defense Letter may still be arrested and charged for a marijuana-related crime. However, the patient may be able to present evidence at a hearing that a certified physician had, in fact, issued the recommendation for an approved medical condition which would allow the charged patient to defend against the marijuana-related charges, potentially avoiding a conviction and permanent criminal record. Once the patient has completed their medical marijuana registration and received their identification card, the Affirmative Defense Letter will no longer be necessary.
Bloom Medicinals recommends that upon receiving medical marijuana from a Bloom Medicinals dispensary, patients and caregivers should immediately return to their home, leave their medical marijuana product sealed in its original, state-permitted packaging, administer their medical marijuana product via an Ohio-approved method of administration only at their home, and keep all their medicines locked and out of the reach of children.
For more information about the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, contact The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy at 1-833-4OH-MMCP (1-833-464-6627), or visit http://medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov.