Is That Right? Can you be arrested for having medical marijuana?
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Medical marijuana officially became legal in Ohio on Sept. 8, 2018, and many people across the state believe they now have a green light to begin buying and using marijuana-based products.
But, Ohio still does not have a functioning marijuana program.
While plants have started growing in greenhouses at select locations, the first harvest in the state hasn't happened yet. The medicines made from those marijuana plants are still months away from being made and shipped.
To get medical marijuana, you’re obligated to follow Ohio's new law, which includes getting a doctor's recommendation and medical marijuana card and staying within the acceptable guidelines of the new law.
But even with all that, you still face exposure to an arrest.
As Local 12's investigation “Medicinal or Criminal?” highlighted, four people from Cincinnati are now facing felony charges after they were stopped by the Ohio State Highway Patrol in February near Toledo with a car full of medical marijuana.
All four told Local 12 they thought they were covered by a legal principle called affirmative defense, which, in theory, means that you shouldn’t be punished under an old law if a new law has been passed. But as the four from Cincinnati are finding out, that isn't decided by troopers or officers. It’s decided in a court.
Their case is progressing in a Lucas County courtroom in Toledo. When Local 12 reached out to the Ohio State Highway Patrol to check whether its policy had changed, we were told anyone caught with medical marijuana would face a similar fate.
The reason? The patrol tells us it has not yet been provided with a list of licensed doctors or patients from the Ohio Department of Commerce, which administers Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program.
Without the list, the patrol says it’s impossible to verify whether you’re a legitimate patient, which means troopers, deputies and officers are often compelled to make an arrest.
So, if you think it’s alright to have and use medical marijuana in Ohio right now, think again. In the eyes of law enforcement, it’s still “WRONG.”