On September 8, 2016, Ohio voters approved HB 523 which legalizes the sale of medical marijuana. Last month, the first four dispensaries opened to those with a state-issued patient identification card.
According to state law, qualified residents can purchase packages weighing 2.93 grams for $50 each. Since it the weight equals one-tenth of an ounce, growers nicknamed the package the “Ohio Tenth.”
In addition, residents can also purchase 295 milligrams of THC in lotion, ointment, or patch form, and 110 milligrams of THC in an edible, oil, capsule, or tincture.
Slowing Down Opioid Use
Many Ohioans hope medicinal cannabis will help curb the opioid crisis in the state. Ohio is currently considered one of the “top five” states in the country for fatal opioid overdoses.
Marijuana provides residents with an alternative to prescription medication. Although most state officials have yet to hail cannabis as a viable pain-relief medicine, the numbers of the opioid abuse speak for themselves.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that 3,613 fatal opioid overdoses occurred in Ohio in 2016, which averages to 32.9 deaths per 100,000 persons. This figure is more than double the national average of 13.3 fatalities per 100,000. Consequentially, state doctors prescribe opioids at a rate of 85.8 prescriptions per 100 people, which is also higher than the national rate of 70 per 100. There has been triple the number of deaths in Ohio since 2018.
Penalties for Possession without a Prescription
Due to the legalization of medical marijuana, Ohio has significantly reduced the criminal penalties associated with possession. Possession of fewer than 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of marijuana and giving away fewer than 20 grams to another person are minor misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum $150 fine and driver’s license suspension for up to five years—with a minimum of six months.
However, possessing over 200 grams or more than 10 grams of hashish and selling/transferring over 20 grams are felony offenses. If a person is caught driving under the influence of cannabis, a conviction results in a maximum six-month prison term and driver’s license suspension for up to three years.