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Ohio Senate okays medical marijuana for conditions including arthritis, autism and migraines

 A display of medical marijuana products at a dispensary in the Columbus area
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
A display of medical marijuana products at a dispensary in the Columbus area

Senators overwhelmingly approved a bill to expand Ohio’s medical marijuana program to other conditions, some of which were rejected for medical pot by state regulators in the past.

“We’re here, and the last bill before our Christmas break and we can end on a high note," said Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), as laughter broke out in the chamber.

Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), a longtime medical marijuana advocate, got in on the joke too, saying when he wanted to propose the idea when he first arrived in the legislature, "all i heard was, 'hey, Yuko, how many joint sponsors have you got?'"

The bill would allow medical marijuana to be recommended for arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, chronic muscle spasms, migraines, opioid use disorder and for people in hospice care or with terminal illnesses. The Ohio State Medical Board has twice rejected adding autism to the list of conditions.

The bill would also transfer some of the program from the State Board of Pharmacy to the new Division of Marijuana Control in the Department of Commerce.

But smoking marijuana or home-growing plants is still outlawed.

All five of the no votes were from Republicans.

It now goes to the House. It's considered more likely to be successful there than proposals to allow for recreational marijuana. Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) has said he's "pretty sure there'll be significant opposition" to that, though there are a Republican-sponsored bill and a bill proposed by Democrats, along with a possible ballot issue next year.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.