The Buzz: 11/15

Ohio marijuana moving forward

By Michael Brice Keller


Medical Marijuana became law in Ohio on Sept. 8, 2016. In October 2016 the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee appointed and begin the two-year process to bring the program to operational status by September 2018. The advisory committee will develop and establish the administrative and regulatory framework for almost every area of the program. The best way to keep up to date with progress is to check out the website. The site identifies that it is provided by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the Ohio Department of Commerce, and the State Medical Board of Ohio. The site provides lots of info on House Bill 523 (the medical marijuana bill), FAQs, news, announcements, and many links.

As you have probably heard by now, the bill favors edibles, tinctures, and oils, and while whole plant material is supposed to be available, it is required to be vaporized instead of smoked. Home grow is not allowed by the bill either. We all need to work to expand the law in these areas.

You may have heard that the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Professional Conduwct recently provided an advisory opinion suggesting that Ohio lawyers were likely limited in what services they could provide to marijuana businesses under the current rules. This was promptly responded to with a direction for a new proposed rule concerning the issue. The proposed change is likely to allow for business, consumer, and patient legal assistance, balanced against required notice about concerns relating to federal law. The likely outcome is that plenty of Ohio lawyers will be available to the industry.

Individuals can help expand the industry by talking to their doctors and others about marijuana now. It’s time to bring this discussion out into the open. I am hopeful that the advisory committee will make rules favoring a large, easy-access medical marijuana program. The key though is not to simply pray for the advisory committee to make good choices but for the public to engage the process. It’s never too early to reach out to these agencies and start talking about the issues.

I haven’t decided yet whether or how I might participate in the industry, other than my current role as a defense attorney and public policy advocate. The more important point seems to be that we all need to work together for ever-increasing opportunities in legal marijuana and bringing an end to the drug war.

As a closing thought, it has been said more than a few times by some old timers [marijuana advocates] that they thought full legalization was close, but that public interest faded when people assumed they could ease up. Please never forget that lots of established industries don’t like change, especially when it could affect earnings, suggesting there’s also some basis to question how hemp, and its potential for fuel, food, fiber, and oil, could be lurking in the background of the debate. I am hopeful you have an opportunity to meet many of the caring and dedicated activists I’ve met over the years and I’m always available for a good discussion about marijuana and hemp.

Articles by Michael Brice Keller, while containing accounts of experiences and viewpoints from the legal world, are not legal advice. To contact Keller Law Office concerning legal services, please visit or call 937.5400.LAW(529).


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Michael Brice Keller is a criminal defense attorney in Dayton who spends most days working on appointed counsel cases and public policy issues with his girlfriend and legal assistant Ashley. He’s a USAF Security Forces Veteran, former undercover investigator, police officer, and private military contractor. As a member of NORML and the founder of GreenFight ( he’s active in the reform of marijuana laws. You can reach him at

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