Ohio's Medical Marijuana Program Details
I've been getting a lot of questions about how the medical marijuana program will work in Ohio and wanted to address some of them publicly. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Program began September 8th and Stillwater Medicine is open and taking appointments online now.
However, it is unlikely that patients will be able to purchase medical marijuana immediately. The reason for this is the way that Ohio has approached its medical marijuana legislation. Ohio began the process of establishing a medical marijuana program two years ago. Each of the 29 states where marijuana is legal in one form or another has taken a different approach to the laws surrounding cannabis. In Ohio, the state regulates the growers, testing labs, and dispensaries at every point in the process from planting the seed to point of sale. As a medical marijuana doctor, this is desirable because it allows me to recommend various forms and dosages of cannabis with confidence.
I have worked in other states where medical marijuana was legal, but with less oversight by the state, and it was often hard to give patients meaningful information how to use cannabis effectively because there was no guarantee that they would be able to purchase the strains and potencies that were appropriate for their condition. And while I appreciate Ohio's attention to this aspect of medical marijuana, the bureaucratic process has been unsurprisingly slow and inefficient.
This means that we can see you and evaluate you for medical marijuana after tomorrow but you will not be able to legally purchase or use medical marijuana until the dispensaries and patient registry are open. For any patient we see during this transitional phase, we will submit their registration to the state after their appointment so that they are able to use medical marijuana as soon as it is available for purchase.
I have been asked about whether our physicians will be able to sell or administer medical marijuana. Curiously, I have also been getting spam email advertisements for lockable safes and office security systems that seem to assume that we will be selling marijuana. In Ohio, physicians are prohibited from storing, selling, administering, using, growing or even admitting to enjoying the smell of marijuana (not really, but almost). Our doctors can permit you to purchase and use marijuana from the state, but will not, under any circumstances, have any portion of the cannabis plant on the premises. We are also prohibited from having any economic relationship with growers or dispensaries. As a patient, this should reassure you that your physician has no bias toward anything besides your health. We will provide detailed recommendations about CBD:THC ratios, terpene profiles, dosages, and forms of medical marijuana.
"Will I be on a list?" is a question I hear a lot. Yes and no is the answer. State law requires that your physician check the Ohio pharmacy database as part of your medical marijuana evaluation and then make a note that they have recommended cannabis. The state then allows you to access your medical marijuana card online. This means that your medical marijuana recommendation is stored in the same database as all of your other prescriptions. This is not publicly viewable or accessible to anyone but your physician or pharmacist. And while I am always skeptical of the government's respect for my privacy, I have not seen any abuses of this system in other states.
If you are interested in learning about or obtaining medical marijuana, I encourage you to schedule an appointment soon. I suspect that it will be better to be at the beginning of the line when medical marijuana does become available for purchase.