It’s official. Half of the states in the U.S. now have medical cannabis laws on the books. On June 8, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed HB 523 into law, bringing medical cannabis to seriously ill patients in the Buckeye State. Ohio’s medical marijuana program will not provide for smoking, nor will it allow home cultivation. The bill does include chronic and severe pain as a qualifying condition. Several agencies will administer the new medical cannabis program, including the Department of Commerce, the State Board of Pharmacy, and the State Medical Board of Ohio. These agencies are expected to start developing rules in the coming months as Ohio begins the process of creating a workable system.
On the last day of May, the Illinois Senate approved SB 10, a key bill changing the sunset date on the state’s medical cannabis program from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2020. The House had approved the bill the day before. In addition to extending the program by two and a half years, SB 10 would allow patients with PTSD or a terminal illness to qualify for medical cannabis. It would also allow doctors to simply state that a patient has a qualifying condition, rather than recommend cannabis. Finally, SB 10 would change the process for petitioning to add medical conditions and modify the composition of the advisory board. Once received, Governor Rauner
will have 60 days to sign the
bill into law.
In May, Governor John Bel Edwards signed S.B. 271 into law, which makes a language amendment to existing legislation. SB 271 replaces the language relying on doctor to “prescribe” cannabis changing it to a written recommendation. Upon federal rescheduling, the law would revert to requiring cannabis to be “prescribed.” The bill also modifies the list of qualifying conditions and makes other small changes. SB 271, as amended, would remove glaucoma as a qualifying condition and would add cachexia or wasting syndrome, seizure disorders, spasticity, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis.
The Vermont medical marijuana program took an important step forward in June when Governor Peter Shumlin signed S. 14, a bill that will make it possible for more patients to qualify for the medical marijuana program. “At a time when opiate addiction is ravaging our state and drug companies continue to urge our doctors to pass out painkillers like candy, we need to find a more practical solution to pain management,” Shumlin said in a statement. Specifically, the bill reduces the threshold for a pain diagnosis from “severe pain” to “chronic pain.” It also adds glaucoma as a qualifying condition, and it reduces the required provider-patient relationship from six months to
In May, Governor Dannel Malloy signed HB 5450, which expands medical cannabis access to pediatric patients. Connecticut’s medical marijuana program will now allow certain patients who are under 18 to access medical cannabis. To participate in Connecticut’s medical marijuana program, minors will have to have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, an irreversible spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, or severe or intractable epilepsy. In addition, they must have a written certification from two doctors — a primary care provider and a specialist. Finally, a parent or guardian must also submit a written statement of consent and attest that they will serve as the minor patient’s primary caregiver. The new law will go into effect October 1.