Marijuana in Ohio: Another form of pain medication?

Governor John Kasich signed a bill Wednesday, legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in Ohio

FILE - In this file photo taken Jan. 13, 2015, marijuana plants sit under powerful lamps in a growing facility in Arlington, Wash. Washington launched its second-in-the-nation legal marijuana market with just a handful of stores selling high-priced pot to long lines of customers. A year later, the state has about 160 shops open, tax revenues have soared past expectations and sales top $1.4 million per day. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – With Governor John Kasich’s signature on Wednesday, Ohio became the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana. When the drug becomes a form of pain medication in the state, what will the effects be for law enforcement and the people who need it?

Lieutenient Brian Butler from the Youngstown Police Department says police will treat medical marijuana like other controlled substances.

“There’s absolutely no way, whether it be marijuana, alcohol or your prescribed controlled substances, pain medication. Any employee of the city would be permitted to be under the influence while working.”

He sees changes coming in the future, with greater emphasis on contracts with employers regarding medical marijuana.

State Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan says those who use it for medical purposes will be feeling the real benefits.

“If we can help children suffering from seizures or patients that have chronic illness, it’s really our responsibility through the legislature to explore safe, non-habit forming alternatives, especially when other medications aren’t working.”

The new law allows patients to use marijuana in vapor form for some chronic health conditions. Smoking and growing marijuana will still be illegal.

Daniel Best, Executive Director of the Youngstown Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), says the bill is a big step forward in thinking of marijuana as a pain medication.

“It’s like if you take aspirin, it’s none of their business what you take it for. It’s not going to kill you, in other words.”

Even though the law will take effect in 90 days, it may still be a while before Ohioans see a dispensary. In the meantime, business owners and companies will be allowed to maintain their own drug-testing policies.

Ohio lawmakers created the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee to help develop any regulations for the continued use of the drug. The process will take time and could take up to two years to complete.

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