If Govenor John Kasich signs this medical marijuana bill into law, it will take months before it goes into effect. After that, it could take more than a year before any patients could walk into a dispensary and buy a marijuana brownie or cannabis oil in Ohio.

But, in the meantime…what happens?

First, of course Kasich must sign the House Bill 523. It won’t officially be a law until inked by Kasich, or if ten days come and pass after he has received the bill.

Because of the high volume of bills passed this week, this process may be slowed down. It may take awhile for the legislative staff to prepare the bill, the legislative leaders to sign it, and then get it into Kasich’s hands.

Although he has not officially said that he will sign House Bill 523, spokesman Joe Andrews said, “He’s said if we need it and we got a good bill, he’d be OK with it.” And let’s not forget how far Ohio has come.

After it is signed, the bill will take effect 90 days later.

But…not everyone will be able to use marijuana legally. Under the law, the following people will be able to legally use marijuana: HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury and ulcerative colitis.

And it gets even more complicated. Patients would need to first get a doctor’s recommendation (and here’s the key) with whom the patient has had an ongoing relationship with.

Then, marijuana use and possession would be legal for SOME this fall. Patients who qualify under the law and have permission of a doctor will be able to possess and use cannabis. The same protection applies to parents of children who are patients. The bill provides an “affirmative defense” against prosecution for patients and caregivers under state law.

It is unclear as to where these patients will get their cannabis. The House Bill is silent on this part. Presumably people would have to travel to legal states, or purchase marijuana from Ohio’s black market.

Dispensaries won’t be open for awhile. Opening days should be no later than September 2018, depending on how quickly each regulatory agency completes its work. In other states, this process has taken several years.


Here is a rough timeline:

  • September: Affirmative defense is established.
  • October: 14-member bipartisan Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee is appointed by the governor and legislative leaders to help craft rules and regulations. The committee includes two pharmacists (one supporting medical marijuana, two physicians (one supporting medical marijuana, a nurse, a researcher and members representing each of the following interests: law enforcement, employers, labor, patients, caregivers, agriculture, mental health and drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
  • May 2017: Department of Commerce must determine how many cultivator licenses will be issued and set cultivator standards before this date.
  • Meanwhile, the Ohio State Pharmacy Board writes the rules for licensing dispensaries and the Ohio State Medical Board determines how physicians will qualify to recommend medical marijuana.