Ohio Senator Seeks To Expand Medical Marijuana Program

Ohio Senator Seeks To Expand Medical Marijuana Program

Republican Ohio State Senator Steve Huffman has been working alongside the state’s Board of Pharmacy, medical providers, and the Department of Commerce to identify ways to improve the state’s medical-marijuana program to serve patients better.

The senator has now sponsored Senate Bill 261, which would expand the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis. Included on the list are autism spectrum disorder, arthritis, migraines, and terminal illness. The bill allows a licensed physician to have “any other medical condition” deemed appropriate.

“As a medical doctor and a state senator, I am committed to the quality of life of the people I serve,” Huffman said in the release. “The provisions in this bill are about improving the treatment options for patients.”

Smoking or combustion of medical cannabis remains prohibited, but vaping and inhalation are still permitted. S.B. 261 also allows for the continuation of curbside and drive-thru dispensing of medical cannabis – approved as COVID-19 safety measures – so that patients have a wider variety of options.

With a goal of one dispensary per 1,000 registered patients – up to Ohio’s first 300,000 registered patients, or 300 dispensaries – the legislation will increase the number of retail licenses. And then, on an as-needed basis, add additional dispensaries. The increase in dispensaries will address patient complaints about lack of access and high prices.

Registered Ohio medical patients pay approximately $280 to $290 for an ounce of flower – higher than in surrounding states because of a lack of product. Huffman’s S.B. 261  would also increase the size of medical cannabis cultivation sites for Level I and Level II license holders. “My hope is that this business-friendly bill will create greater access for patients at a lower cost,” Huffman said. 

The legislation streamlines the licensing process for businesses selling pop top vials of MMJ by empowering the Department of Commerce to have primary oversight, eliminating co-regulation with the pharmacy board.

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