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Ohio Medical Marijuana Law Blog

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.

Who can buy medical marijuana?

Even when something is used for medicinal purposes, the proper steps need to be taken when using and selling this medicine. While medical marijuana has become legalized in Ohio for qualified conditions, it is important for those in the cannabis related industry to know whom they can sell their product to. If a licensed seller ends up selling medical marijuana to someone who does not have a medical marijuana card, he or she might end up jeopardizing his or her business. It is therefore important to know the correct way to obtain a card.

The first step to obtaining a medical marijuana card is to visit a certified physician. The physician can confirm that the patient has a qualifying condition and can also create a profile for the patient on the relevant registry. It is very important to create and maintain this relationship, as an in-person visit is required at least once a year. Additionally, the physician can make their recommendations directly on the patient registry and can also recommend refills for up to 360 days.

Cannabidiol misinformation may lead to confusion

If you are involved in the exciting new medical marijuana industry, you likely keep up with the national news as well as the decisions from the Ohio government regarding your market. Understanding cannabis and the various products scientists and researchers derive from it can be valuable when assisting patients who come to you for information.

What you may be dealing with more often is confusion and misinformation about cannabidiol. CBD is quickly gaining a reputation for being a miraculous alternative to traditional medicine. While Ohio's stance on cannabis products is changing rapidly, at this moment, marijuana and CBD are the same in the eyes of state laws.

Why is patient access to medical marijuana still limited?

The legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes in Ohio has forced many in the state to reevaluate the way they think about the plant. Cities once famous for illegally growing the plant for years now hope to profit from its legalization, especially as the decline of coal has brought about a loss of jobs and tax revenues.

Given its potential tax benefits, there is no surprise that people are rallying behind the medical marijuana business. Delays in opening up dispensaries and limits in licenses have inhibited the potential revenue the business could bring in, but hopefully this will change as more dispensaries open. Nearly $3.5 million have been generated since the first dispensary has opened, and this number is considerable given it is only available in flower form so far. Additionally, as per state law, medical marijuana cannot be smoked. Sales are expected to increase as more of the licensed processers will be selling the plant as edibles, lotions and oils.

What is a medical marijuana card?

As discussed previously on this blog, the use of marijuana for medical purposes has been legalized in Ohio to help treat and ease the symptoms associated with a number of qualifying conditions. As of now, there are 21 conditions that qualify for treatment. However, someone who has a qualifying condition cannot just walk into a dispensary and ask for medical marijuana-an Ohio medical marijuana card is needed to do so.

If someone has one of the qualifying conditions, they can schedule an appointment with a certified medical marijuana doctor to discuss one's medical issues and treatment history. If the condition is approved, the doctor will likely provide a signed recommendation after the appointment that can be submitted to the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, along with the registration fee. Once the person is entered into the registry, an Ohio medical marijuana card will be emailed to the qualifying patient.

We help overcome hurdles to get a medical marijuana license

Entering any new business venture is intimidating enough, as entrepreneurs try to learn the laws surrounding the field they are entering to ensure they obey it. This becomes difficult when the law surrounding the industry is fluid yet tightly regulated at the same time, as the cannabis industry in Ohio is. The laws in the relatively new legalized marijuana industry can change at any time, yet adhering to them is key to ensure one does not have their business shut down.

It's not just the laws surrounding the dispensation of medical marijuana that are complicated, it is also the hiring of new staff, testing and growing of cannabis, which is regulated and complex. With every step the business takes, it needs to ensure it is complying with all relevant and updated laws.

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The Patton Law Firm, LLC
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