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Government & Politics

What Federal Changes Mean for Ohio's Medical Marijuana Program

marijuana leaves with question mark
JO INGLES
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU
While several states are allowing medical and recreational marijuana use, the drug is still classified at the federal level as an illegal Schedule I substance, alongside heroin and ecstasy.

An Obama-era policy that made is possible for legalized marijuana to become a reality in some states has now been rescinded by the Trump administration. What might that mean for Ohio’s medical marijuana program, which is set to be operational in September?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new stance would allow federal prosecutors in states with marijuana programs to decide how aggressively to enforce federal laws. OSU Moritz College of Law Professor Doug Berman says this action will force politicians to take up the issue.

“It’s my sense there are a number of the Attorney General’s own party, the GOP, that are troubled by the possibility of widespread prosecutions and I think that would be particularly strong and forceful in the context of medical marijuana," Berman said.

In a written statement, the Ohio Department of Commerce, which oversees the program, said it’s following guidelines set up in the new law. And it said it won’t speculate about federal decisions.