Medical marijuana becomes legal Thursday in Ohio.

But there are just a few problems.

There are no marijuana crops because there are no growers. There are no processors, testing labs or dispensaries to sell a product that doesn’t yet exist.

And even if all those things were in place, patients would have to get a “recommendation” (a prescription is illegal under federal law) from a physician. No Ohio physicians have been certified by the state to recommend medical marijuana to patients.

And so the wait begins, up to two years, while rules are worked out, employees hired and licenses issued.

While the law does not specify that people with qualifying medical conditions must obtain marijuana in Ohio, that is the presumption, said Mike Griffaton, an attorney with the Vorys law firm in Columbus.

“I believe the law was clear that it’s supposed to be a closed-loop system, born and bred in Ohio,” Griffaton said.

Sen. Dave Burke, R-Marysville, a sponsor of the marijuana legislation, said the law does not dictate where people may buy medical marijuana.

But buying it in other states where it is legally available, including Michigan and Colorado, would be difficult, experts say. Marijuana remains illegal as a controlled substance under federal law, although the feds have taken a hands-off approach as more states legalize it. Ohio is the 25th state, plus the District of Columbia, to do so.

If someone manages to obtain it elsewhere, the law is unclear whether possessing medical marijuana in Ohio is still illegal.

Griffaton said the law will create an upheaval in employer-employee relations. While it allows people who qualify to buy and use medical marijuana, it does not protect them from being fired for using it.

“The law is clear that the employer has no expectation to accommodate use, possession or distribution of medical marijuana,” Griffaton said. “They can accommodate medical marijuana use if they want to.”

“There’ll be some sorting out until this is up and running.”

The new law comes from House Bill 523, which sets up a highly regulated “seed-to-sale” system for growing, processing, testing and dispensing marijuana for people with any of 20 specified medical diseases and conditions. Patients will be able to get a recommendation from a physician for a 90-day supply of marijuana edibles, patches, oils, tinctures and plant material. Vaporizing marijuana will be permitted, but smoking will not. Home growing is banned.

The system will be overseen by Ohio Department of Commerce, Ohio Board of Pharmacy, State Medical Board and an appointed advisory committee. Initial rules will be rolled out later this month, but marijuana is not expected to be available for 18 months to two years.

Patients qualify if they have any of the following conditions: HIV/AIDS; Alzheimer’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); 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 chronic, severe, and 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.

Original Article via Dispatch