Medical marijuana is legal in 25 states, but none currently allow users to bring marijuana across state lines.
That could change if a bill introduced last week passes: It would allow those with legal access to medical marijuana in Ohio to bring it into Pennsylvania.
Ohio’s medical marijuana law, which took effect Sept. 8, includes the ability for Ohio to make “reciprocity agreements” with other medical marijuana states to accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards in Ohio to buy and use marijuana, and vice versa.
The current law states agreements will only be made with other states that have “substantially comparable” medical marijuana laws regarding who is eligible to receive medical marijuana.
The amendment Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, introduced would add additional requirements so that agreements are only made with states that also prohibit the smoking and personal cultivation of medical marijuana, just as Ohio does.
“I know this may limit (reciprocity), but I just want to make it very clear that we’re not going to allow smoking or growing,” Koehler said. “Or that you’re not allowed to go to another state that allows smoking and growing, and get it from there, and bring it back to Ohio.”
Only seven states currently allow “reciprocity agreements” with other states. Pennsylvania is the only state that accepts out-of-state medical marijuana cards and also prohibits smoking medical marijuana and the personal growing of the substance.
Koehler said he also is worried that Ohio’s current language in the bill could be interpreted to where a reciprocity agreement is made with a state like Colorado, which has recreational marijuana.
"I think it could have a chilling effect on travel, people seeking medical attention here, and just on the general environment and attitude here towards medical marijuana in Ohio,” Aaron Marshall, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana spokesman, said.
The bill amendment could send the wrong message to the medical marijuana community by not allowing most out-of-state people to bring their medicine to Ohio legally, Marshall said.
The bill introduced, HB 597, has yet to be assigned to a committee for further consideration.
Liam Niemeyer is a fellow at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.