The Hopegrown Report: Ohio Medical Marijuana Program

August 14, 2018

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House Bill 523 legalized medical marijuana in for Ohio voters on September 8, 2016. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program was established to allow people with certain medical conditions, upon the recommendation of an Ohio-licensed physician (certified by the State Medical Board,) to purchase and use medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is expected to be available for the first time in Ohio this fall. Here's what you need to know from the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program: Ohio law requires all retailers, growing operations, testing labs and other medical marijuana businesses to be fully operational by September 8, 2018. 


1. How can a patient obtain medical cannabis in the state of Ohio? 

The federal government prohibits doctors from being able to prescribe marijuana. Instead, patients must have a recommendation from a certified physician. Physicians interested in recommending the use of medical marijuana for patients must apply for a certificate to recommend from the State Medical Board of Ohio. At this time, the State Medical Board of Ohio is on track to start issuing certificates to recommend in Spring 2018. This will be an online process managed through the state’s eLicense portal. Additional instructions will be posted on medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov once the certification process is put in place.

2. What are the qualifying medical conditions that can be treated with medical cannabis? 

Certified physicians may recommend medical marijuana only for the treatment of a qualifying medical condition. Under Ohio law, all of the following are qualifying medical conditions: AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.

3. How can new qualifying medical conditions be added? 

  • The State Medical Board of Ohio established Nov. 1, 2018 – Dec. 31, 2018 as the first submission period for petitions to add a qualifying medical condition to the Medical Marijuana Control Program. PETITIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED BEFORE NOV. 1, 2018. During the submission period next fall, all petitions should be filed electronically through the State’s website, medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov. A petition needs to include:

    • The name and contact information
    • Specific disease or condition requested to be added
    • Information from experts who specialize in the study of the disease or condition
    • Relevant medical or scientific evidence
    • Consideration of whether conventional medical therapies are insufficient to treat or alleviate the disease or condition
    • Evidence supporting the use of medical marijuana to treat or alleviate the disease or condition and other types of medical or scientific documentation
    • Letters of support provided by physicians

    Under Ohio law, all of the following are already identified as qualifying medical conditions: AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.

4. Do I need to register? 

Yes. All medical marijuana patients and their caregivers are required to register with the State Board of Pharmacy. Full details regarding registration as a patient or caregiver can be found in Chapter 3796:7-2 of the Ohio Administrative Code.

5. What is the patient and caregiver registration fee? 

(A) The following non-refundable fees shall be paid to the state board of pharmacy:

(1) The annual fee for a patient registration is $50. One application fee must be submitted with each application.

(2) The annual fee for a caregiver registration is $25. One application fee must be submitted with each application.

(B) The state board of pharmacy may reduce registration fees to fifty per cent of the full registration price for a prospective patient who qualifies for indigent or veteran status, and any prospective caregiver for such a patient.

6. How long will registration be valid?

A patient or caregiver registration will be valid from the date of issuance and expire one year later, on the last day of the month it was issued. If the patient is diagnosed as terminally ill, the patient’s registration will expire after six months.

7. Will my registration status be made publicly available?

No. The law prohibits the Board of Pharmacy, as well as licensed dispensaries, from making personal identifying information public. Physicians and those employed by dispensaries will be able to verify a patient or caregiver’s registration.

8. Will medical cannabis be available to minors? 

Yes. However, a physician holding an active certificate to recommend may recommend treatment with medical marijuana only after obtaining the consent of a parent or another person responsible for providing consent to treatment.

9. Where will I be able to obtain medical cannabis? 

Medical marijuana will be available from retail dispensaries licensed by the Board of Pharmacy. Once the Board of Pharmacy has completed its dispensary licensing process dispensary locations will be made available through this site.

10. How many dispensaries will be licensed by the Board of Pharmacy?

The State Board of Pharmacy may award up to 60 dispensary licenses.

11. What forms of identification do I need to enter a dispensary? 

Patients and caregivers must provide their registry identification card and photographic identification before entering the dispensary department. Acceptable photographic identification includes:

(1) An unexpired state driver's license;

(2) An unexpired Ohio identification card issued by the Ohio bureau of motor vehicles (BMV); or

(3) An unexpired United States passport or United States passport card.


12. How much medical cannabis will a registered patient or caregiver be able to possess at one time? 

The amount of medical marijuana possessed by a registered patient or caregiver must not exceed a 90-day supply. Full details regarding a 90-day supply can be found in Ohio Administrative Rule 3796:8-2-04.

13. What forms of medical cannabis will be available? 

Authorized forms of medical marijuana can be found in Rule 3796:8-2-01 of the Ohio Administrative Code.

14. Will I be permitted to grow medical cannabis for personal consumption? 

No. The law prohibits the cultivation of medical marijuana for personal, family, or household use.

15. Will I be able to use my medical cannabis registration card in other states? Will an out-of-state card be recognized in Ohio?

The law requires that the Board of Pharmacy attempt to negotiate and enter into reciprocity agreements with other states. Before entering into an agreement with another state, the Board must determine that both of the following apply: 

(1) The eligibility requirements imposed by the other state in order to obtain a registry identification card are substantially comparable to Ohio’s requirements; and,

(2) The other state recognizes a patient or caregiver registration and identification card issued in Ohio.

16. Does Ohio recognize medical cannabis cards issued by other states? 

Currently, Ohio does not recognize medical marijuana registry cards issued in other states. The law requires that the Board of Pharmacy attempt in good faith to negotiate and enter into reciprocity agreements with other states. If Ohio does enter into a reciprocity agreement with another state, more information will be posted to the OMMCP website.

17. What is required of a physician to recommend medical cannabis now that House Bill 523 is effective?

A physician is not permitted to issue a state of Ohio approved written recommendation to use medical marijuana until the physician has obtained a certificate to recommend from the State Medical Board of Ohio. Per Bill 523, the rules outlining the standards and process needed to obtain such a certificate to recommend will be developed no later than September 8, 2017. For more information, please visit the website for the State Medical Board of Ohio.

As a way to protect patients and parents or guardians of minor patients who seek to use marijuana prior to the creation and implementation of all the administrative rules necessary to run the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, HB 523 created an affirmative defense for certain marijuana-related crimes. According to the law, a patient, parent, or guardian can only raise an affirmative defense if they have, among other requirements, received a written recommendation from his or her doctor that certifies a certain number of criteria are met. The Board recommends that physicians consult with their private legal counsel and/or employer for interpretation of the legislation.


18. Will my registration status conflict with employment laws according to HB 523? 

  • Provides that nothing in the bill requires an employer to permit or accommodate an employee's use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana; prohibits an employer from taking any adverse employment action an employer may take under current law because of a person's use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana; or permits a person to sue an employer for taking an adverse employment action related to medical marijuana.
  • Provides that nothing in the bill prohibits an employer from establishing and enforcing a drug testing policy, drug-free workplace policy, or zero-tolerance drug policy or interferes with federal restrictions on employment, including U.S. Department of Transportation regulations.
  • Considers a person who is discharged from employment because of the person's medical marijuana use to have been discharged for just cause under the Unemployment Compensation Law if the use violated an employer's drug-free workplace policy, zero-tolerance policy, or other formal program or policy regulating medical marijuana use and thus ineligible for unemployment benefits, which appears to be similar to current law.
  •  Maintains the rebuttable presumption that an employee is ineligible for workers' compensation if the employee was under the influence of marijuana and being under the influence of marijuana was the proximate cause of the injury, regardless of whether the marijuana use is recommended by a physician.






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