Ohio is still months away from opening medical cannabis dispensaries to patients. But the state is taking steps to ensure that when sales begin, every aspect of the program is in place.
Since April, the Ohio State Medical Board has been reviewing applications from physicians seeking approval to recommend medical marijuana. So far, the board has approved 185 physicians, adding 46 doctors to the growing list on Wednesday
Before certified physicians can make a medical cannabis recommendation, they have to do their homework.
First, doctors must complete two credit hours of continuing education on medical cannabis and the state’s qualifying medical conditions.
But the requirements go further. In addition to their education requirements, any recommending physician must certify in writing that they have a real relationship with their patient.
That requirement alone could limit access to legal medical cannabis for patients who don’t go to one of the 185 approved physicians.
Approved doctors are also required to dig into their patients’ substance use histories. Beyond discussing the pros and cons of cannabis use, doctor’s must also check whether their patient has a history in Ohio’s controlled substances database.
According to Cleveland.com, Ohio’s certified doctors aren’t waiting for dispensaries to open before writing medical marijuana recommendations for their patients.
Instead, physicians are meeting with patients and, if they request it, writing letters that protect patients from prosecution for using or possessing cannabis. Patients are still required to follow Ohio’s medical marijuana law.
Ohio has established an expansive list of qualifying conditions to buy and use medical marijuana with a physician’s recommendation. One condition, chronic pain, will likely represent the majority of enrollees.
Still, Ohio health officials expect the state’s medical marijuana program to start off with relatively few patients. The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, which partly oversees the program, is predicting between 4,600 and 51,000 patients will register in the first two years.
Industry analysts, however, are expecting higher numbers. Since chronic pain is a qualifying condition, they estimate Ohio’s medical marijuana patient population could top 200,000.
Ohio continues to takes steps, however piecemeal, toward implementing its medical marijuana program.
Patients interested in the program will have to sign up through a certified doctor’s office. But Ohio’s patient registry isn’t set up yet.
Furthermore, Ohio regulators are still in the process of awarding operating licenses to growers, producers and dispensaries. That process has not been without controversy, but regulators say medical cannabis products could be available for sale as early as this fall.
To see if your physician or a doctor in your area has approval to recommend medical marijuana, search the State Medical Board’s database. The board updates the list monthly as new physicians receive approval.
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