Fresh from the headlines: short, noteworthy developments in the cannabis world with an Ohio point of view. All sources are linked:

The Feds

·       Full Legalization. As a follow-up to the MORE Act – passed in the U.S. House, stalled in the U.S.  Senate and expired at the end of last year – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has signaled his intent to introduce legislation that would remove marijuana from federal scheduling, expunge records and focus on small businesses in communities hit hard by the drug war. (March 2020)

·       Rescheduling for Research.  U.S. Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) reintroduced his “Marijuana 1-to-3 Act” into the U.S. House to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act for the purpose of furthering research. (January 2021)

·       Support Our Veterans. Rep. Steube also reintroduced the “Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act” to codify into law that veterans are allowed to discuss cannabis’ risks and benefits with their doctors and that they cannot be denied veteran benefits because of their use. (January 2021)

·       Bank on it. U.S. Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D-CO) reintroduced the “Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act,” which also passed in the U.S. House, stalled in the Senate and expired at the end of last year. The bill would permit cannabusiness to utilize banking services, a difficult proposition under current law. (March 2021)

·       You’re Fired! The Biden Administration has fired five White House staffers because of prior marijuana use, even though cannabis is fully legal in 15 states and legal for medical purposes in 35 states. Chemical Bigotry lives on. (March 2021)


·       Down Mexico Way. The country’s Chamber of Deputies has approved a bill to fully legalize marijuana, which will likely pass the Senate and be signed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. This comes as a directive from Mexico’s Supreme with an April 30th deadline. (March 2021)

The States

·       The Last Three. Only three states have no public cannabis access program: Idaho, Nebraska and Kansas. That may be changing.

o   The Nebraska Supreme Court invalidated a citizen-led medical cannabis issue last year; this year the governor invoked Reefer Madness, saying marijuana “gonna kill your kids.”

o   Idaho lawmakers raised the bar on bans by passing a possible constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds legislative vote to legalize any illegal drug.

o   Back in Kansas, the medical marijuana law being considered by their legislature comes with “strict rules”. If it sounds like Ohio’s HB 523, it is, according to Kansas Public Radio. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?  (March 2021)


·       Program Progress. Since the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program’s (HB 523) inception in 2016. (March 2021)

o   Total number of medical marijuana recommendations (244,163), which includes registered patients (176,387), veterans (11,722), caregivers (19,956), indigent status (12,714), terminal (915) and unique purchasers (155,961).

o   Total operating cultivators: Level 1 (larger – 15) and Level 2 (smaller – 12)

o   Total operating dispensaries: 52

o   Total recommending physicians: 679

o   Total operating processors: 30

o   Total operating testing laboratories: 3

o   Total pounds of the plant sold: 39,340

o   Total product sales: $338.3 million (see historical sales here)

·       Dispensary Expansion. Ohio finally opened 52 of its 57 licensed dispensaries. But with a patient population of over 170,000, that’s not enough according to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Plans are underway to open 100 more especially in underserved areas like Southeast Ohio. (March 2021)

·       Home Grow. Ohio Rep. Terrance Upchurch (D-Cleveland) and Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati) have introduced HB 10 into the Ohio House, which would permit personal cultivation of up to 12 “marihuana” plants. It would also allow possession of 200 grams of marijuana and 20 grams of hashish. Penalties for larger quantities are reduced. The legislation also has a provision for record expungement. (March 2021)

·       Autism Spectrum. Ohio Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) reintroduced legislation (HB 60) to authorize the use of medical marijuana for Autism Spectrum Disorder. So far, the bill has 15 bipartisan cosponsors. (February 2021)

·       New Conditions. From November 1 to December 31 each year, the Ohio Medical Board seeks applications to add new qualifying conditions to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control program. Of the 30 applications submitted in 2020, five will receive expert review: Restless Leg Syndrome; Huntington’s Disease;  Spasticity/Persistent Muscle spasms; Terminal Illness - less than 6 months; and Terminal Illness - less than 6 months, eligible for hospice care. Autism and Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia are also being considered. A decision is expected in the spring.

·       Pandemic Ballot Issues. What does an Ohio activist group do when it finds in can’t collect “wet” signatures after being ordered to stay home during a pandemic? They sue, stating that their free speech rights had been infringed upon. A federal judge agreed, but an appeals court put that decision on hold. When asked to intervene, the U.S. Supreme Court declined, letting the lower court ruling stand. Was that the end? Stay tuned. (June 2020)