Two days ago, John Kasich officially signed Ohio’s medical marijuana bill into law, making it the 25th state (26th if you count Washington D.C.) that allows some form of medical marijuana use.
Although, Ohio’s measure is more restrictive than many other medical marijuana bills – patients cannot actually smoke marijuana, then must instead ingest it via edibles or use a vaporizer. Patients cannot grow their own, and there are only a handful of conditions that will qualify for a marijuana recommendation.
To address this, medical marijuana advocates had previously launched a campaign to put a broader medical marijuana bill in front of voters this fall. Some say though that the bill Kasich signed was intended to stave off more permissive ballot measures. And it worked: these advocates recently suspended this campaign, calling the bill “imperfect,” but also saying the bill’s passage represented “a joyous day for the thousands of Ohioans who will finally be able to safely access much-needed medicine.”
But regardless, it is still a big statement. Half of the states in the US now allow medical marijuana; and that’s a pretty big statement.
Perhaps these changes will put some pressure on the federal government to update their decades-old cannabis policy; a policy that most experts agree is out of step with current scientific understanding of the drug and its risks and benefits.
Since the 1970’s the Drug Enforcement Administration has considered marijuana to be under the strictest category of regulation: Schedule I. As you might recall, this classification says that there is no medical use of the substance. But clearly 25 states disagree, as well as 90% of the population of the US.
But of course it’s not just opinions that matter…it’s research too. Marijuana has been shown to have great promise when it comes to medical use, from epilepsy to chronic pain.
Let’s see if this is all enough to change the DEA’s mind.
The DEA is currently in the final stages of reviewing a petition to re-classify and re-schedule marijuana. They have told lawmakers that they will have their final decision ready by July.