Addressing the legal questions of Ohio's medical marijuana law

Ohio's medical marijuana law will be in effect starting September 8th, but the program allowing consumers to use the medication is still a ways away. (Jim Nelson/WNWO).

Despite Ohio's new medical marijuana law going into effect Thursday, it could be as many as two years before the state-run program is in working order.

"There are people using medical marijuana now in Ohio and they are doing so illegally," said Aaron Marshall of Ohioans for Medical Marijuana.

He's preaching patience as the state develops rules and regulations. Eventually, doctors will be able to recommend cannabis as treatment for qualifying patients.

For now, some say they are buying medical marijuana legally in others states before bringing it back to Ohio and smoking there.

"One of the things you run into as a problem there is, if you obtain it -- what you're really doing is bringing a Schedule I drug across state lines, which is a federal crime," according to Brian Wright, the executive director the Ohio Cannabis Association.

Meanwhile some labor attorneys have suggested issues could eventually arise between employees and their employers that prohibit any use of marijuana.

Through it all, Wright says being educated is critical as the process plays out.

"We know people need this medication -- we know they're eager to have it and get it. But we certainly don't want them to getting themselves into trouble to get it at this point, thinking that it's totally (and) legally accessible when it's not," Wright said.

In a release, the Ohio Cannabis Association detailed the law's affirmative defense provisions, which give patients and excuse if caught in possession of medical marijuana. The group says under the requirements, the patient must obtain a statement from a licensed physician authorizing them to use medical marijuana. Due to uncertainly of the program, Wright says obtaining such license could be difficult at this time.

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