Medical Marijuana Legalization in Ohio
In November 2023, Ohio passed Issue 2, which allows residents of Ohio to purchase, consume, and grow adult-use cannabis. Starting December 7 2023, Ohioans 21 and older can possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of extracts. However, purchase of adult-use cannabis likely won’t begin until summer of 2024.
In 2016, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 523 into law, legalizing the use of medical cannabis across the state of Ohio.
The system became fully operational in early 2019 and is overseen by the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, which developed rules for cultivators, patients, and caretakers. This program—alongside the state medical board and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy—determined 22 medical conditions that qualify medical marijuana patients.
Smoking cannabis is prohibited in Ohio’s medical marijuana program. The law permits cannabis ingestion only in the form of edibles, oils, vaporizing, concentrates, topicals, and tinctures.
Cannabis is illegal for recreational use in the U.S. state of Ohio, but ownership of up to 100 grams is decriminalized.
Marijuana Dispensaries and Cultivators
Though there are over 57 medical cannabis dispensaries throughout the state and 700 certified doctors to qualify patients, the cost of medical cannabis (manufactured by 33 cultivators) remains too expensive for a large portion of the more than 125,000 registered patients. The medical cannabis industry has also been tempered by many laws since its passing four years ago, with several setting parameters for cultivating, prescribing, and selling to patients,” reports WCPO, a local ABC station.
With up to 1,000 new medical cannabis cardholders approved monthly in 2020, Ohio will have to continue to serve citizens better based on news reports that the drug they need is too expensive to buy. For now, Ohio residents are reportedly traveling to Michigan to get medical cannabis. The Columbus Dispatch reports the news source receives constant citizen complaints, causing them to cross the border.
“Ohio marijuana cardholders have repeatedly told The Dispatch, both on the record and in private, that they travel to dispensaries north of the state line to save money,” reported the Columbus Dispatch in September 2020. Patients consistently list price as one of the biggest obstacles to buying the drug in Ohio.
In the meanwhile, Ohio has decriminalized small amounts of cannabis when found on a person, and law enforcement is no longer charging citizens with any criminal offense. Rather, these consumers are charged a monetary fine.
Surely continued medical cannabis legalization in other states will have Ohio considering recreational use, as it did medicinally. It is only a matter of time.
Becoming a Caregiver in Ohio
Ohio’s caregiver laws are straightforward, beginning with the patient assistant being at least 21 years old and able to prove their Ohio residency with a valid driver’s license or state identification card. The caregiver, who must be listed on the patient certification, must also pay a $50 annual card registration fee. Ohio caregivers can only care for two patients at a time per law.
Registration of a patient or caregiver will be valid from the date of issue and will expire one year later, the last day of the month it was given. The patient’s registration expires after six months if the patient is diagnosed as terminally ill.
Possession & Cultivation Limits
Unlike most states, Ohio has a tiered possession limit, allowing a certain amount of THC-infused cannabis products to a patient depending on the condition they have. A tier I medical cannabis cardholder can possess up to 8 ounces of THC that tests at 23% or less; and a tier II medical cannabis cardholder can have up to 5.3 ounces of THC that test above 23%, but not higher than 35%.
Certain types of products in Ohio are only allowed to have so much THC. While patches, lotions, creams, and additional topics can not exceed 26-55 grams of THC, cannabis oil, tincture, capsules, and all other edibles can not exceed 9.9 grams of THC. Up to 53.1 grams of THC is allowable specifically for oil that is to be vaporized.