Ohio marijuana laws

Published on September 5, 2020 · Last updated March 15, 2021

Is marijuana legal in Ohio?

Current legality status


Cannabis is legal for qualified patients with a licensed card.

Medical cannabis is legal in Ohio but recreational cannabis is not. The state only allows medical use for qualifying patients. And smoking or vaping weed is not allowed at all—even medically.

However, Ohio has decriminalized cannabis in some form since the mid-1970s. Currently, possession of up to 100 grams is treated as a minor misdemeanor punishable by a $150 fine across the state. Some cities, like Dayton and Cincinnati, have gone a step further and eliminated all fines and penalties for possession of up to 100 grams of weed.

Home cultivation of marijuana is not permitted.

Medical marijuana patients, or their caregivers, may purchase the following in a single visit:

No less than one of the following, each referred to as a “whole day unit”:

  • 2.83 grams, otherwise known as “the Ohio tenth
  • 110 milligrams of THC in oil, tincture, capsule, or edible (50 milligrams per edible)
  • 295 milligrams of THC in patch, lotion, cream, or ointment form
  • 590 milligrams of THC in oil for vaporization

No more than one of the following, which the state considers a 90-day supply:

  • 8 ounces of Tier 1 flower, which is weed with a THC content of 23% or less
  • 5 and 1/10 ounces of Tier 2 flower, which has a THC content of between 23% and 35%
  • 26 and 55/100  grams of THC content in patches for transdermal use or in lotions, creams and ointments
  • 9 and 9/10 grams of THC content in oil, tincture, capsule or edible form of medical marijuana, which is to be consumed orally
  • 53 and 1/10 grams of THC content in medical marijuana oil for vaporization

Note: While state legislation sets limits on how much medical marijuana can be used for vaporization, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost indicated in August 2019 that neither smoking nor vaping medical marijuana is permitted. Despite the AG’s statements, the state has not otherwise indicated that vaping medical marijuana is illegal.

Ohio medical marijuana laws

Medical marijuana patients are able to purchase amounts set by the state, from a “whole day unit” like the Ohio tenth to a 90-day supply. Once a patient purchases a 90-day supply—such as 8 ounces of Tier 1 flower or less than 6 ounces of higher THC potency Tier 2 weed—they cannot purchase more cannabis from a dispensary until the next 90-day period begins.

Ohio medical marijuana bills

HB 523 was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Kasich in 2016, a year after a ballot measure that would have legalized recreational use failed at the polls.

Ohio is one of the stricter states when it comes to medical marijuana legislation, following in the footsteps of states like New York with a total ban on smoking.

Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana

Qualifying as a medical marijuana patient in Ohio requires having conditions specifically named by the state, including:

  • AIDS
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/ Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia, wasting syndrome
  • Chronic, severe or intractable pain
  • Cancer
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy or other seizure disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • HIV-positive status
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Spinal cord injury or disease
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Ulcerative colitis

How to get a medical marijuana card in Ohio

Any Ohio resident with a qualifying medical condition can receive a registration card. And unlike some states, there is no minimum age requirement, but potential patients under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

  1. Collect your medical records proving you have a qualifying condition. You can request these documents directly from your doctor or specialist’s office by filling out a patient access form.
  2. Visit a medical marijuana clinic in the state and bring your records with you. A doctor at the clinic will review your medical history and perform an exam. Note: Given the COVID-19 pandemic, some are providing telemedicine options so people can apply for a registration card completely online. Sites like ohiomarijuanacard.com are doing exams by video conference.
  3. In the state application, include a government-issued ID card and the doctor’s written recommendation.
  4. Pay the annual registration fee of $50, which can be reduced if a patient is a veteran or qualifies for disability, social security or other supplemental income. Many clinics will charge about $150 to $200 for an initial visit to apply for a medical card.
  5. Once an application is approved by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the patient is enrolled into the state’s registry.

Note: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 gives every American the right to view and obtain their medical records. If you’re nervous about saying you’re requesting the records to get medical marijuana, you can just tell your doctor’s office it’s for personal reasons.

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Does Ohio accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards?

No, Ohio does not allow use of medical marijuana cards issued by other states.

When does my Ohio medical marijuana card expire?

In Ohio, medical marijuana cards last just one year and then must be renewed.

Ohio marijuana growing laws

Just like smoking weed, home cultivation of marijuana is totally banned in Ohio.

Ohio public consumption laws

The state does not allow public consumption of cannabis. Meanwhile, several cities have decriminalized possession of less than 100 grams of weed and sometimes up to 200 grams.

Sixteen municipalities have decriminalized weed in the last five years, allowing people caught with small amounts to face no penalty of any kind, according to The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Ohio cannabis DUI laws

It is illegal to operate a vehicle if one has marijuana in their system in the following amounts:

Marijuana10 ng/mL2 ng/mL
Marijuana metabolite35 ng/mL50 ng/mL
Marijuana metabolite with other drugs/alcohol15 ng/mL5 ng/mL

Any person is guilty of a DUI if they are driving under the influence of an intoxicating controlled substance. Ohio’s DUI law specifically names cocaine, heroin, alcohol, marijuana, LSD, amphetamine, phencyclidine as prohibited substances when it comes to driving.

Ohio Rev. Code, Title 45, Chapter 4511.49

Although a prescribed medicine can be a valid defense against prosecution for a DUI, a doctor’s recommendation given to receive a medical card in Ohio is not a prescription, according to state law.

A first-time DUI is considered a first-degree misdemeanor and holds a mandatory minimum of three days in jail, with up to six months behind bars possible, as well as an intervention program. The offender must also pay a fine of $375-$1,075 and will have their license suspended for six months to three years. With each weed DUI thereafter, fines increase and so does possible jail time.

While a third offense within 10 years is still considered a misdemeanor, a fourth and fifth offense within 20 years is a fourth-degree felony.

Meanwhile, a sixth offense is a third-degree felony. Fourth, fifth and sixth offenses are all punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment, criminal forfeiture of the offender’s vehicle, up to a $10,500 fine and revocation of one’s driver’s license—possibly indefinitely or for life.

Ohio cannabis testing regulations

The stringent nature of Ohio’s medical marijuana law extends to its handling of testing. Weed being distributed to a licensed dispensary must be tested for possible foreign matter contamination, moisture content, microbial contamination, pesticide and fertilizer residue, heavy metal contamination, and CBD and THC levels as well as at least a dozen other categories of elements and contaminants.

Still, the state had to recall three medical marijuana products in late 2019, not long after legal sales first began. The recalled marijuana had failed independent lab tests for yeast, mold, and other microbial contaminants, an Ohio Department of Commerce spokeswoman told The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Here’s how Ohio’s marijuana lab testing works and what it tests for.

Common questions about marijuana legalization in Ohio

When did Ohio legalize medical marijuana?

Gov. John Kasich signed HB 523, which legalized medical cannabis, in 2016. But it took another three years for dispensaries to start selling to patients.

What is a “Ohio tenth”?

In place of the traditional eighth-ounce is the Ohio tenth—one-tenth an ounce of weed, or about 2.83 grams. Medical marijuana in licensed dispensaries are sold in this unique amount, which state law describes as a “whole day unit.”

Can you get fired for marijuana use even if you are a registered patient legally consuming it for medical reasons?

In short, it sounds like the answer could be yes. Ohio’s medical marijuana law makes it clear it does not promise certain protections for patients. For one, the legislation does not require employers to waive a zero-tolerance drug policy—even if an employee is a state-registered patient legally using cannabis to treat a qualified medical condition.

How old do you have to be to be registered as a medical marijuana patient?

There is no minimum age requirement. However, patients under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian accompany them through the application process, including the doctor’s visit.

Keep up with the latest news about legalization in Ohio

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Post last updated Sept. 5, 2020

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