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Fireworks and Medical Marijuana in Ohio

seniors smoke pot
Cartoon by David Granlund

Ohio has some strange laws when it comes to fireworks and medical marijuana. Ohio’s neighbor to the north, Michigan, is much more friendly towards fireworks and marijuana than the Buckeye state. Can’t beat Ohio State in football to save their lives, but Michiganders love smoking dope and shooting off fireworks.

Ohioans are not permitted to use fireworks, even though this law is routinely ignored or rarely enforced. We can buy fireworks in Ohio, we just can’t use them. The Ohio border with Michigan is littered with fireworks stores. Ohioans frequent these stores, buying large quantities of fireworks for their Fourth of July celebrations. Purchasers have to state that they will transport the fireworks out of state within forty-eight hours (Ohio Revised Code 3743.65). Wink, wink, sure. 🙂

The Dayton Daily News reports that Ohio might be entering the nineteenth century when it comes to fireworks:

Ohioans would be allowed to discharge consumer grade fireworks — firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets and more — anytime, any day on their own property, according to legislation approved Thursday by the Ohio House.

The House voted 77-17 in favor of the measure, which now moves to the Senate for consideration. A similar bill is also pending in the Senate.

Lawmakers have long sought to clean up Ohio’s convoluted consumer fireworks law. Currently, Ohioans may purchase consumer grade fireworks but they aren’t allowed to possess or use them in Ohio. There is a long-standing moratorium on the number of fireworks licensed manufacturers and dealers.

The bill would eliminate the prohibition on possession and ignition of consumer grade fireworks and earmark a portion of taxes collected on sales for firefighter training programs.

Despite illogical existing law, safety advocates say lifting restrictions is the wrong way to go. The Ohio Fireworks Safety Coalition says there is no safe way to use fireworks and often it’s innocent bystanders, including children, who suffer injuries from amateur pyrotechnics.

….

House Bill 253 and Senate Bill 72, both pending in the Ohio Legislature, would lift the ban on consumers discharging such consumer fireworks. The bills would legalize “backyard” fireworks on private property year-round unless local governments pass restrictions.

Based on what Ohioans hear in their neighborhoods during the 4th of July, plenty of people are violating the current law. That could be a first degree misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail, but it rarely is enforced.

In 2016, medical marijuana was legalized in Ohio, albeit with numerous onerous, costly restrictions. (Please see Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Ohio?) Four years later, the program is largely seen as a failure, primarily due to the exorbitant prices charged for marijuana. Here in rural northwest Ohio, there are no medical marijuana dispensaries. Many local communities have enacted laws prohibiting dispensaries, and I don’t know of one local doctor who is willing to prescribe the drug. I had ONE conversation with my primary care doctor about the matter, and I learned quickly not to broach the subject again. I could get a doctor outside of this area to prescribe me medical marijuana, but I fear a random drug test by my primary care doctor — mandated by his practice — would throw my pain management into disarray. As it stands now, I have to jump through hoops just to get the Schedule Two drugs I am currently taking. I dare not risk having those drugs stopped, all because a drug test found marijuana in my system. Yes, this sucks. Welcome to the land of God, Guns, and Republicans. (Yes, religion, not science drives the anti-marijuana sentiments of many local physicians.)

I recently read a news story that reported that Ohio medical marijuana users were driving to Michigan to fill their prescriptions. Michigan marijuana is 50-90 percent cheaper than that which is sold at Ohio dispensaries. Even if I could get a medical marijuana prescription, I couldn’t afford it, and my health insurance does not cover marijuana.

I have thought about driving to Michigan to buy marijuana, but it remains a federal and state crime to transport it from Michigan back to Ohio. Some Ohioans have learned this the hard way. Nearby Fulton County sits on the border of Michigan and Ohio. The sheriff in Fulton County has been arresting people who bring marijuana across the state line, charging them with possession. That’s right. People with chronic illnesses and chronic pain are being arrested for trying to affordably alleviate their suffering.

The Columbus Dispatch reported two weeks ago:

Officials in Ohio’s medical marijuana industry have repeatedly said prices will fall once the state’s industry matures, and state figures tracking consumer costs support that notion.

But that state up north has a big jump on Ohio, having legalized medical marijuana more than a decade ago. In 2018, Michigan legalized recreational pot for residents over 21. (Sales began in December 2019.)

“Lots of people are crossing the border because Michigan is a mature market of 10 years,” said Jim Rice, a cardholder who lives near Cleveland and owns KAYA.IO, a cannabis transport company.

Bringing marijuana, even legal marijuana, across state lines is illegal. Ohioans can purchase the drug at a Michigan dispensary but are required to consume it before crossing back into their home state.

The two states are working on an agreement to let Ohio marijuana cardholders buy medicinal cannabis in Michigan and bring it back to their home state, but nothing is final.

Ohio provided a letter to medical marijuana cardholders that let them bring products from Michigan for 60 days after Ohio established a patient registry in December 2018 (the first dispensary opened a month later).

However, there was confusion among patients as to how long those letters lasted, said Tim Johnson, co-founder of the Ohio Cannabis Chamber of Commerce advocacy group.

It’s unclear how many Ohioans actually go to Michigan to buy marijuana, but in the spring a Michigan State University research group estimated that roughly 9% of the state’s legal cannabis is sold to out-of-state buyers, particularly those from Indiana and Ohio.

Ohio medical pot users risk arrest by shopping across the state line, and some card holders have said police in Fulton County, on the state line, were targeting them after they shopped in Michigan dispensaries and brought marijuana back into Ohio.

When questioned about high prices, Ohio’s medical marijuana industry officials point to a litany of regulations they must follow to comply with state law, and note that costs have fallen.

One unit of a marijuana product in Ohio was roughly $131 in the second week of July, down from nearly $800 per unit in June of 2019. The costs of specific products were not available.

A direct comparison between Ohio and Michigan prices is difficult because Michigan doesn’t track sales in the same way and prices for individual products vary, but patients say it’s clear.

“Things that cost $20 dollars here cost $5 there,” Rice said.

I love living in Ohio, but I wish Republican legislators — Republicans control virtually every major state political office — would put the interests of suffering Ohioans first. But, the overwhelming majority of these legislators worship Jesus, and if Jesus can suffer on the cross, what’s a little suffering for people with cancer, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other illnesses? Just pray your pain away, right?

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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9 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    I’m just hoping that Ohio doesn’t ban the herb I use when having pain flares. But it could happen, and then I’d probably have to get Tramadol, which is VERY addictive.

  2. Avatar
    Infidel753

    I didn’t realize Christianity was against marijuana. Isn’t the Bible full of stories about people being stoned?

    Hopefully, after the election, marijuana will be legalized federally. Eventually. There’s going to be a lot to do.

  3. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    B.C. bud easily available here. We are permitted to grow a couple of plants on our own property now too. Well, it has been growing illegally for so long that now that it is legal, there hardly seems a difference. I dearly wish I could send somebody some B.C. bud in some way that would not endanger their health care coverage. A few years ago, when I hurt my back, I ate some cooked bud and it really eased the pain and helped me rest/heal. Ohio is draconian…. thank-you once again to Jesus-fascists who aim to own all of us.

  4. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    I’m surprised that in this day and age,pot products are illegal in Ohio. What about CBD oil dispensaries ? It also can be ordered by mail . Whatever brand you get it must be standardized versions. I want to rub the oil into my joints and see how well it works

  5. Avatar
    Yulya. Sevelova

    I was looking up CBD use as something to use topically, though these two sites also discuss other methods. Is there any petitions going on to get medical pot legalized yet and then dispensaries are where one goes to pick it up ? News-medical.net, and arthritis.org are just the two I was studying. I’d love to get the oil and cut it with Blu- Emu and see what happens. I bought some of Johnson’s Blu for my best friend when it first came out in the early 2000’s. I had him take a hot shower, then he rubbed it into all his old injury areas and went to bed. He was very happy with the results. I also bought him a memory foam bedcover, since he lived in an RV and slept on a table,so to speak. He was taken almost I5 years ago, so no chance to test the CBD. Now it’s my turn to need this stuff,so I thought to pass on that bit of info. Any CBD products would need to be grown here in the U.S. to be safe,and be vetted by growers and pharmaceuticals

  6. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    My phone’s acting up again-hete are the acronyms one should look for on product containers and literature,AHP/AOAC,and USP.I hope this is useful for all who can use it. I sure plan to,lol.

  7. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    Hi Yulya, I am an athlete with a heavy training load, and I use Lazarus Naturals CBD oil orally, and topical balm after hard workouts. Does it work? I can’t say for sure whether using these helps my recovery, if I just train smart, or if I am just lucky not to be injured at age 50. None of these companies can make efficacy claims as per the FDA, and I dont know whether it’s worth the money to try them or not – personal choice.

  8. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Thank you , Obstacle Chick, I’m going to look into that brand. It sounds interesting. We lost our discount health food store a few years back, now there’s only a couple of franchises out here. One thing i always loved about our late, great state was the sheer variety in shopping options. Even before COVID hit.

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