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Ohio Medical Marijuana Law Blog

Noncompliance with state law can affect business license

Running a business is difficult enough in today's economic climate, but add to it an ever-changing landscape and it can become even more complicated. The marijuana business is heavily regulated with complex rules that are constantly evolving. Add to that the fact that rules differ from state to state and there is a completely different code of federal laws applicable as well. All this can be complicated for someone trying to run a business in the industry, in an attempt to help ailing individuals get relief from the symptoms from which they suffer.

Despite all the complications in the industry, missteps and mistakes are often heavily penalized. This means that any one misstep can mean an operating license is denied. Even when it has been granted, heavy competition in the state means that maintaining the license is crucial to keeping it. As mentioned previously on this blog, Ohio companies have been found violating state dispensary laws for behaviors such as hiring someone without notifying the necessary agencies.

Is CBD the same as medical marijuana?

A recent move in Ohio to separate hemp from state drug laws caused confusion in the state, with many claiming recreational marijuana had become legal in the state. However, this was not the case, as officials explained-industrial hemp and products made from its active ingredient, cannabidiol, have been legalized only. Ohio is one of the last states to legalize hemp.

Hemp and marijuana are similar in that they share the same genus-CBD-but they are from different species. Hemp has become popular because of CBD, which has medicinal qualities but lacks the tetrahydrocannabinol that produces the high. Hemp only has 0.3 percent of THC.

Medical Board rejects 2 conditions for marijuana use

Your involvement in the medical marijuana industry means you must remain compliant with state laws and alert to changes in those laws. This is a burgeoning industry, and Ohio is treading forward cautiously. You must be careful to avoid missteps that could cost you your license or your business.

One critical element of the medical marijuana industry is understanding the conditions the State Medical Board of Ohio considers eligible for treatment using marijuana. Patients whose conditions qualify for marijuana become your customers, and your knowledge of their medical issues may help you provide quality service, whether you are cultivating, testing, dispensing or acting in some other capacity. The list of qualifying conditions is always changing, but a recent Medical Board meeting rejected proposals for adding two challenging conditions to those approved for marijuana prescriptions.

Problems weighing down the medical marijuana industry

Many thought that the legalization of medical marijuana would bring about a change in the state, as people with the approved conditions could now legally obtain products that could improve the quality of their life. The industry was expected to blossom and large profits were forecast. Unfortunately, this has yet to happen as high prices have prevented many from purchasing medical marijuana legally and only a fraction of dispensaries have been granted operating licenses.

Another issue began plaguing the medical marijuana industry lately: People have begun claiming cultivators are not following sanitary procedures. Patients have claimed they have found a seed in the flower material, demonstrating the product is low quality. Additionally, there is dispute over the pesticides being used. While neem oil has been approved by the FDA as a safe pesticide, patients are afraid it will be toxic when consumed. Even though it is not clear if the pesticide is actually being used in the state, patients claim they have the right to know what is going in the product they are ingesting.

Companies found violating medical marijuana dispensary rules

Businesses across the nation are faced with a wide range of laws and regulations. Once medical marijuana became legal in Ohio, businesses scrambled to get their paperwork in order to get licenses to dispense it legally. The laws regulating the field are complex and vary from state to state, which is why companies may find it difficult to get it. Relevant boards are holding businesses to what they claimed on their applications, and this is creating problems for at least two in the state.

For the 60 available dispensary licenses in Ohio, 376 applications were submitted. Anyone with at least one percent ownership or equity in the company had to be declared, and the pharmacy board is now holding them to their board. Businesses have to comply with what they said on their application, including financial interests. Big ownership changes are prohibited until the dispensary has been open for one year.

What is the difference between CBD and medical marijuana?

Ohio residents have most likely recently begun to see a number of cannabidiol products pop up in the market-it can be found in items ranging from lotions and shampoos to boosters in workout smoothies. However, many are unaware of its relationship with marijuana and whether CBD, as it is commonly known, is legal or not.

CBD is the second most dominant ingredient in marijuana. It is an essential component of medical marijuana but it is derived directly from the hemp plant. The hemp plant can be considered a relative of the marijuana plant. Though CBD is found in marijuana, as are hundreds of other ingredients, alone it does not cause the 'high' marijuana does. In fact, the World Health Organization has concluded that it does not have the potential to be abused or to cause dependency.

Heavy regulations govern your dispensary

If you are one of the fortunate few authorized to distribute medical marijuana in Ohio, you understand the complex process of obtaining a license. The young and developing industry falls under heavy state regulation. A limited number of licenses are available, few applicants receive approval and all of licenses are expensive to obtain. In fact, Ohio is one of the toughest states in which to open a dispensary.

With this in mind, once you have your license to operate a medical marijuana dispensary, it should be one of your most critical priorities to protect and maintain your license. This means complying with state regulations for yourself, your employees and your store.

Ensure marijuana license complies with state law

Last week's blog discussed the ways in which the quality of medical marijuana in Ohio is tested and maintained. Manufacturers and growers have various legal obligations to fulfill to ensure their product meets the state's stringent requirements. Unfortunately, the majority of product being tested in the three state laboratories is rejected due to contaminants, but an explanation is provided so manufacturers can improve their product.

The mandatory testing places a heavy burden on small crops cultivators, and the time it takes to complete the tests means that the return on profits is delayed. These factors might dissuade small growers from going to the state approved laboratories, but they might not realize they have a legal obligation to follow these regulations. Failure to do so might result in an interruption or a permanent stoppage in the business. Even allegations of not following standard operating procedures in a testing lab can pose a threat to a company.

Is medical marijuana tested to ensure quality?

Before a medicine is cleared for consumption by the public, it is tested to ensure it actually contains the ingredients it claims it does and at the levels it says it does. The law is no different for medical marijuana, with three cannabis-testing labs currently in operation in Ohio. Two others have also been licensed; however, they have not yet begun operating, as they fear handling a substance that is federally illegal might jeopardize federal grants and licenses.

These laboratories are quasi-regulators, tasked with informing cultivators and processors if their product can be sold or not. These private testing labs must operate independently from the dispensaries, operators and cultivators and are in the unique position of being private corporations working in the interest of public health.

Will medical marijuana be allowed to treat new conditions?

There are currently 21 conditions that allow Ohio residents to qualify for medical marijuana use, but last year the state allowed the public to suggest new conditions. The state medical board committee received more than 100 petitions, which were narrowed down to five conditions. Of those, anxiety and autism are coming closer and closer to getting approved as a qualifying condition. The board rejected insomnia, opioid addiction and depression.

While it is not known how many adults live in the state with autism, more than 44,000 children have the condition. Children can use medical marijuana if an adult is supervising them. Around 1.6 million Ohioans have anxiety. Experts agreed on the use of medical marijuana for treating these two conditions, but not on the three rejected ones. They did agree that it was a safer and effective treatment compared to other available treatments.

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