Ohio approved it's medical marijuana program last year, but patients could be waiting until September 2018 for dispensaries to open and receive treatment. For some the wait can be unbearable, especially when a short drive through a neighboring medical marijuana state can yield the relief that so many need. Some Michigan dispensaries are able to sell to out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders, and many in Ohio are taking advantage of this helpful program. For patients in Ohio hoping to purchase the drug before local dispensaries open, they need a recommendation from their doctor as well as an "affirmative defense" letter to be used in court in case they are arrested for possession. If caught with less than 100 grams of marijuana, Ohioans are faced with a max fine of $150, but also the threat of losing their driver's license for six months. This letter of affirmative defense can protect Ohio patients from these unfair penalties, and in at least one case protected a man from being charged with possession as well as having his marijuana returned to him by police.
Ohio’s medical law was approved last year and requires that dispensaries must open by September 2018. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office says marijuana possession, medical or otherwise, remains illegal while state agencies write the rules and regulations on how cannabis can be grown and sold.
The doctors working for Toledo’s Omni Medical Services are relying on an ambiguous provision in the new law that says doctors can give people “affirmative defense” letters to use in court if cited or arrested for possession ahead of dispensaries opening.
Johnson said he and his doctors are interested only in helping people get medicine they need. Hundreds of people have been given recommendations so far, but he wouldn’t offer a more detailed number, he said.
“We’re not here to serve people to get high,” Johnson said. “That’s not what we’re about.”