New Rules Released For Ohio’s Medical Cannabis Law

ohio marijuana

When Ohio Gov. John Kasich effectively legalized medical cannabis in Ohio, with a stroke of a pen, the state became the 25th in the U.S. to legalize a very comprehensive medical cannabis program. This week the Ohio Board of Pharmacy has rolled out several new sets of rules for the evolving program.  Finally clearing the smoke with Ohio’s medical cannabis program with some sort of focus in rules now proposed for cultivators, doctors who recommend it for patients, and for dispensaries.

The Ohio’s Pharmacy Board release of its drafted rules for dispensaries in a 66-page document, covering everything from who is allowed to operate a dispensary and where the businesses can be located to the costs of applying for a state-issued license. Ohio would issue a maximum of 40 dispensary licenses leading up to the Sept. 8, 2018 launch of the new medical cannabis program. After that, every two years the state’s Medical Marijuana Control Board would review whether more dispensaries are needed, based on the state’s population and patient demand.

Drafted rules must be first be reviewed by the 14-member Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, followed by the state Common Sense Initiative, which is operated out of the lieutenant governor’s office. Finally, the rules then need the approval of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, a panel of state legislators. House Bill 523, the medical cannabis law will allow for people with any of 21 specified diseases or conditions to get a recommendation, not a prescription,  from a doctor to obtain the medical cannabis in the form of plant material only; a cannabis oil, a tincture, an edible or a patch. Under the law, cannabis can be vaped but not smoked. The medical board’s rules provide for the possibility of adding more diseases or medical conditions to the list by under section 4731.302 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Ohio Board of Pharmacy recommended that 40 dispensaries be scattered around the state’s 88 counties to sell medical cannabis to qualifying patients. That number is far fewer than the 1,150 dispensaries proposed in a medical cannabis ballot issue defeated by Ohio voters in 2015.

The second set of state rules rolled out Thursday reveals how Ohio physicians can recommend but not prescribe medical cannabis for patients. They say that for physicians to recommend they must have an active, unrestricted license “to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery.” They also must take a two-hour training course in medical cannabis. The rules also say that a physician must “establish and maintain a bona-fide physician-patient relationship that is established in an in-person visit,” and the physician must provide care for patients on an ongoing basis.

State officials proposed changes to rules initially recommended in November for growers. The revisions would double the number of small marijuana growing sites allowed to 12 from six while keeping larger growers capped at 12 locations.

Large growing sites would be increased to 25,000 square feet from 15,000; small ones would be increased to 3,000 square feet from 1,600. The revised rules also permit a one-time “build out” of growing sites to a maximum of 50,000 square feet for large ones and 6,000 square feet for small ones.

Lawmakers have said in previous weeks, the law doesn’t say where patients would get their cannabis before dispensaries are set up and open, but it’s assumed they would get it from another state or Ohio’s existing black market. But legal experts say doing so would violate state and federal laws, as well as a key provision of the federal government’s hands-off approach to regulating state medical cannabis programs. Sen. Dave Burke, a Marysville Republican who led the Senate’s efforts on the bill, said the law intentionally ignores where people can buy cannabis before dispensaries are set up because the State Board of Pharmacy will take some time setting up the parameters for what cannabis products can be sold here.

Patient advocates in Ohio say that number may be way to low to support the estimated 188,000 patients who may be eligible for medical cannabis.
“That’s not nearly enough,” said Aaron Marshall, a spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “That would work out to be about 4,700 patients per dispensary which is far too many. We know a lot of work still needs to be done, but this is definitely a concern.”

Additional proposed program rules that were released are:

• Dispensary owners would pay a $2,000 application fee and a biennial license fee of $80,000.
• Dispensaries couldn’t divide or repackage marijuana and marijuana products bought from a cultivator.
• Dispensaries couldn’t sell food or drinks.
• Dispensaries would have to be open for 35 hours a week, limited to operating hours between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
• They would have to hire a clinical director who is a pharmacist or licensed prescriber to train employees, develop patient educational materials and be on-call   or on the premises during operating hours.
• Employees would also have to report all medical marijuana purchases to the state prescription database, OARRS, within 5 minutes of dispensing a product.
• Patient delivery services would NOT be allowed.
• Dispensary names, logos and advertisements would need state approval- no cartoon characters allowed.
• More dispensaries could be added after Sept. 8, 2018, if the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy determines there is need.

Some very big disappointments within Ohio’s medical cannabis program is how lawmakers have said the traditional smokeable form of cannabis and patients being able to have personal cultivation rights were off the table from the beginning. Along with not allowing patient delivery services that will neglect safe access for those home-bound patients who qualify into the program.  The drafted rules released Thursday also set a fairly rigid process of adding new medical conditions to the program, requiring evidence that conventional drugs are insufficient to treat or alleviate the condition. Medical board officials said physician requirements in law are more restrictive than other states. The Board of Pharmacy is seeking public comments until Jan. 13th 2017 and you can comment on the new rules at: MMCPRules@pharmacy.ohio.gov.

Jason Barker
About Jason Barker 35 Articles
• New Mexico medical cannabis patient and activist • Grass roots organizer with LECUA Patients Coalition of New Mexico CERTIFICATIONS • Exercise Specialist Certificate for Personal Training / Life Coaching / Sport Nutrition • International Mountain Bike Association- National Mountain Bike Patrol • USA Cycling Coach • Bike Patrol-Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization; Columbus, OH — 2005 -2010 • Bike Patrol-IMBA National Mountain Bike Patrol; Lee County, FL —2007-2008 • Youth Cycling Coach-Savage Hill Cycling Team; Westerville, OH — 2004-2005 • Isle of Palms Police Dept. - Beach Patrol — 1997 • Open Water Rescue Professional / Beach Patrol / EMT ; Hilton Head Is., SC 1994-1997

29 Comments

  1. Thery’re going to make people wait 2 more fucking years for their medicine? God damn animals. They need an interim source of supply for those who whose need is pressing, like cancer patients who will be dead in 2 years.

    • good idea, but the solution is to take all the filthy anti-American prohibitionists and tattoo the word STUPID on their foreheads.

      • There was no problem with cannabis, that is until racists started with their “devils weed” lying bullshit. Gotta control those Mexicans and satanic jazz musicians, don’t ya know!?!

  2. Ohio “Medical Marijuana” law was designed to do one thing and one thing only, forestall the development of a legal cannabis industry in Ohio.

    They will increase their stranglehold on this already impracticable law until Ohio has legal cannabis in name only.

    As an erstwhile investor in the industry as proposed last year, I’m here to tell you that neither I nor any of the other investors whom I know will have any interest whatsoever in this mass of regulation which will make profit impossible.

    I will be truly shocked indeed if there are any investors whatsoever, the starting point being at least one million in cash ($250,000 of which must be sitting as collateral in cash only) to participate.

    Anyone with a million in cash to invest can find far better and safer opportunities, every single day.

    • Maybe someone would pay it to get a head start on the legal recreational market, which is presumably coming thru citizen initiative in 2020, or possibly 2018?

      • Another ballot issue for full legalization becomes more and more inevitable each time the various boards increase their strangulation of Ohio’s laughable medical marijuana law.

        That’s the one positive in it.

      • You had your golden chance to make it legal, Issue 3 was a gift from GOD… but Ohio’s dirt-floor-educated people voted it down. STUPID, Ohio people are stupid.

        • Well…
          it wasn’t “perfect” legalization, so…”maybe next time”,
          (if there really is a “next time”), and FUTURE
          ballot initiatives for re-legalizing cannabis are not made
          illegal / invalid by some intervening Rethug in the meantime.

  3. Our federal and state governments have been controlled by Christian terrorists with police powers for decades, Ohio is no exception. Until we remove these scumbags from power we will continue having religion based laws that impose ignorance on everyone.

      • zookeepers must be uneducated to say the least. Carl Sagan smoked pot every day, he was a “Rocket Scientist” and the top scientist in his field.
        Scumbags are people that consume liquid drugs such as alcohol and those that use other liquid drugs like caffeine and I can go on… Cannabis, or ‘pot’ is not a drug, but a seed bearing herb also known as “The Tree Of Life”. For those of you that have no background in cannabis, please read some books as there are many on the subject.

        • lol..always the the same excuses. Maybe you should study the new facts that just came out about the effects on teens. And yes pot is addictive. If it wasn’t there wouldn’t be pot heads.

    • Ohio Government is one of the worst in all 50 states. It is the fault of the legislature and Governor as well as all the kings corrupted men have been holding Oho back for decades. It’s no wonder Ohio is in financial trouble and the state can’t seem to attract enough tax dollars,, I wonder why…. BAD MANAGEMENT, anti-American idiots in our Ohio government that have no clue.

  4. Since the federal government can not / will not recommend medicinal marijuana, how are patients of the VA supposed to get it ?

    • By now the vets should know they have to buy it on any street corner from an illegal pot dealer that probably sells pills to your kids as well. The vets should come together on this issue as a team, but they only come out one guy at a time.. The vets went to the Dakota pipeline and it all changed.. can we get all the vets to stand up for this? If so, When?

      • Even then they could be given the sample bottle for a “sample of a bodily fluid” to make sure they’re not taking something that might actually help.

  5. Jason Barker, you used the wrong “to/too” in the sentence: “Patient advocates in Ohio say that number may be way to low to support the estimated 188,000 patients who may be eligible for medical cannabis.”

  6. My brother is dieing of stage 4 cancer and the chemo and radiation is not working. He only has 6 months to live at best and if the laws would be passed my brother would have a chance of living by taking the cannabis oil high in CBD to kill the cancer producing cells. So because you can’t make a decision my brother gets to loose his life! I will fight this with my every being and when he dies I will fight harder. You need to put politics to the side when you have the chance to save many lives. God put it on this earth for a reason why don’t we wake up and use what God gave us to make us better! The Indians have been using it for centuries and still use it today in ceremonial dances, sweating with the chief and healing. So wake up and let’s try it what could it hurt! You use chemo and radiation which destroys the bodies immune system and makes the patient feel sick. There is no proof that the cannabis oil will do that. There is proof that cannabis oil cures cancer by eating the cells and kills off the cancer growing properties plus there is no side effects. It also helps children with seizures etc. So put politics to the side and all these big companies that are deep in you pockets! Change the law now!!! You won’t be able to save my brother but you can save others!!! I am ready to fight this! Who else is on board!!!!

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