Medical cannabis is legal in the state of Ohio, though recreational cannabis use remains prohibited. However, the state has taken a relatively generous approach to decriminalization, eliminating heavy penalties for possession and consumption of small quantities of cannabis.
Ohio has a relatively relaxed approach to cannabis policy in general, though continues to prohibit the possession and consumption of recreational cannabis. Decriminalization transformed the state’s approach to the punishment of cannabis-related crimes, though the most recent initiative to formally legalize recreational cannabis failed. Commercial cannabis sales for medical marijuana cardholders began as recently as January 2019.
Eventually, medical cannabis would be legalized in Ohio in June 2018. This made Ohio the 30th North American state to provide qualifying patients with access to medical cannabis. Applications for medical cannabis cards opened as of August 2018, overseen by the Ohio Medical Marijuana Authority. The state then embarked upon a frantic process of getting the new medical cannabis infrastructure in place, ahead of potentially heavy demand from patients state-wide. Delays were inevitable, but Ohio’s medical cannabis system is now officially up and running – much to the relief of thousands of patients with life-affecting conditions.
What Is the Legal Status of Medical Cannabis?
Irrespective of state-level legislation, all forms of cannabis are still illegal at a Federal level. This is why so many states have been apprehensive to introduce their own medical and recreational cannabis laws – the Fed could technically crack down on the industry at any time. It’s unlikely to happen, but it nonetheless leaves businesses, banks and policymakers reluctant to bring about any sweeping reforms.
Will I Qualify for Medical Cannabis in Ohio?
In order to qualify for a medical cannabis ID in Ohio, you need to be at least 18 years of age and be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition. Patients under 18 are also accepted if represented by a parent or legal guardian.
Interestingly, Ohio is one of the only North American states not to publish a list of qualifying medical conditions. Instead, doctors are able to recommend patients at their discretion, who they believe would benefit from medical cannabis. They are therefore free to recommend any patients they wish for the state’s medical cannabis program.
That said, there are certain medical conditions that more typically qualify patients for access to medical cannabis. Examples of which include the following:
Addiction Substitute Therapy – Opioid Reduction
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Cancer, Including Remission Therapy
Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
Dyskinetic and Spastic Movement Disorders
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective
Sickle Cell Anaemia
Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your case in more detail
Can All Doctors in Ohio Prescribe Medical Cannabis?
As with most states, Ohio restricts medical cannabis recommendations to a network of authorised physicians with special licenses. It’s therefore important to ensure your chosen physician can recommend you for medical cannabis, before making your appointment. Research the available options online and find a physician with a good track-record.
What Do I Need to Do?
If your doctor believes you are a suitable patient for medical cannabis, you will be provided with an official recommendation. After which, you can apply online via the OMMA website, where you will need to submit your personal details, formal ID and a copy of your cannabis recommendation. If your application is successful, you will receive your permit within 2 weeks by post. The total cost of the application if $100, reduced to $20 for qualifying patients with Medicaid (SoonerCare) or Medicare enrolment. All medical cannabis IDs are valid for a maximum of one year, after which a renewal must be applied for.
Are Ohio’s Medical Dispensaries Already in Business?
Yes, but the network is relatively compact for the time being. As the vast majority of licensed dispensaries didn’t start stocking cannabis until late 2108, shortages were still being experienced well into 2019. Most of which have now been addressed, though it’s worth contacting your chosen dispensary prior to paying it a visit.
What Kinds of Medical Cannabis Products Can I Buy?
There are no specific restrictions imposed on the types of cannabis products that can be purchased with a medical cannabis card. Along with traditional cannabis flowers, the vast majority of dispensaries also stock a wide range of edibles, concentrates, tinctures, vapes and so on. Speak to your doctor to determine the quantity and potency of cannabis you require, along with your preferred consumption method.
How Much Cannabis Can I Buy Per Visit?
Medical cannabis purchase limitations are imposed on a per-30-day basis. Each qualifying patient may purchase their full month’s quota in a single visit, which is limited to the amount your doctor recommends.
What Are the Personal Possession Limitations in Ohio?
State law dictates that qualifying medical cannabis patients must not exceed the following personal possession restrictions:
Possession of up to 3 ounces of medical cannabis in public
Storage of up to 8 ounces of medical cannabis at home
Growing of up to six mature plants in your private residence
Doctors may request formal permission for patients to access greater quantities where necessary, though this is comparatively rare.
Can I Grow My Own Medical Cannabis in Ohio?
Patients who would prefer to grow their own medical cannabis in Ohio are permitted to cultivate a maximum of six plants at any one time. Plants can be purchased from authorised dispensaries, which can also offer helpful advice on successful cultivation. Medical cannabis prices in Ohio as a whole are comparatively high, making cultivation the preferred option for a sizeable proportion of patients.
Do All Dispensaries Stock the Same Products?
No – you’ll find a wide range of different products from one dispensary to the next. Some show preference to edibles and topicals, while others are more about traditional cannabis flowers and vapes. If there’s a specific cannabis product you need or would prefer, call the dispensary ahead of time to ensure they stock it.
I Have a Cannabis Card from a Different State – Can I Use It?
For the time being, there are no allowances for patients with out-of-state medical permits to access cannabis in Ohio. You will not be able to qualify for a medical cannabis card unless you are a resident of Ohio, nor will you be able to legally access cannabis of any kind. It is also illegal to cross state lines with any form of cannabis on your person, which should be taken into account before travelling to or from Ohio.
What Are the Penalties for Illegal Cannabis Consumption?
Medical cannabis laws have been relaxed significantly over recent years, but Ohio continues to throw the book at recreational cannabis users. All forms of recreational cannabis are illegal in Ohio – punishments for even small-scale possession and consumption are severe.
For example, anyone caught in possession of any quantity of cannabis could be liable for a $10,000 fine or up to a year in prison. For a second similar offense, this is increased to anything from 2 to 10 years in jail, in accordance with the severity of the offense. Being caught with cannabis with the intent to supply (in any quantity) is punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
Hence, Ohio remains a no-go area for recreational cannabis users, or medical cannabis patients without a state-issued cannabis ID.
Will Ohio Legalize Recreational Cannabis?
By a sizeable margin, Ohio remains one of the least likely states to legalize recreational cannabis. Ohio is notorious for its incredibly severe penalties for illegal cannabis possession and use, which haven’t changed a great deal in some time. Legalization in Ohio is only likely to occur if cannabis is legalized at a state level. An eventuality that is highly unlikely for the time being.