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Medical marijuana is legal in Ohio (technically)

Medical marijuana is legal now in Ohio but will not be available any time soon. (WSYX/WTTE)

Medical marijuana is officially legal in Ohio, but patients looking to use pot will have a hard time getting it for a while.

Governor John Kasich's administration will put together an advisory committee over the next month. After that, other state departments will write the rules for people growing marijuana, the labs testing it and the dispensaries selling it. None of those systems are ready yet. The state has two years to get it done.

"We still have a ways to go," said Rep. Kirk Schuring, R - Canton, who worked for months on the bill which eventually was signed into law. "The good news is we're on a pathway now of seeing it come to pass. When you're building a regulatory system like we're doing with this legislation, it takes time."

The Commerce Department, State Medical Board and Pharmacy Board will all play a role in creating the medical marijuana system. The pot will be tracked from being a seed to being sold. Setting up that process will take about a year.

"We're kind of feeling our way," said Sen. Charleta Tavares, D - Columbus. "We're trying to learn from some of the other states. Day 1 we're not going to have everything in place."

Marijuana will only be legal for medicinal purposes and with a doctor's recommendation. People will not be allowed to smoke it. People still can't get medical marijuana from another state and bring it across state lines either.

"That's a federal crime," said Brian Wright with the Ohio Cannabis Association. "The last thing we need is patients getting in trouble for things like that. We're getting there but obviously the state has a lot to do to get the right pieces in place."

Tavares said she doesn't see this as a first step toward legalizing marijuana for recreation.

One part already in effect is "affirmative defense". That allows someone to fight a possession charge in court if that person has a letter from their doctor recommending they use medical marijuana.

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