Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich on Wednesday signed a bill legalizing marijuana use for medical purposes under certain circumstances, his office said.
Over the last few years, state legislatures and voters in the United States have been much more receptive to making marijuana legal for medical purposes, and to a lesser extent, recreational use.
The Ohio legislature approved the measure in May.
Some 24 states and Washington D.C. currently allow some type of medical marijuana use, and just a handful of states allow its recreational use. It remains illegal on the federal level.
Kasich, who earlier this year dropped out of the U.S. presidential race, signed the bill but provided no statement on Wednesday.
The Ohio legislation only allows patients with specific medical conditions to use an oil, edible, tincture or vapor form of marijuana prescribed by a physician licensed in the state, starting in 2017.
Medical marijuana users would not be allowed to smoke or grow their own marijuana under the measure, which also would create a commission responsible for regulating and licensing of all operations of the drug.
The measure was fast-tracked to head off a possible less-restrictive medical marijuana ballot initiative in November. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana suspended their campaign for the ballot measure late last month, saying that while the lawmakers’ bill had its shortcomings, it was “a moderately good piece of legislation.”
Last November, Ohio voters soundly rejected a measure that would have made it the first U.S. Midwestern state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The proposal was criticized for allowing the main backers of the proposal cartel-like powers over the industry in the state for several years.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco and Kim Palmer in Destin, Fla.; Editing by Matthew Lewis
Photo: Marijuana plants are seen in an indoor cultivation in Montevideo December 6, 2013. REUTERS/Andres Stapff