Is Medical Marijuana Available in Ohio?
Ohio HB 523 was signed into law in the fall of 2016. The comprehensive bill allowed medical marijuana to be used to treat 22 qualifying conditions. Patients seeking medical marijuana are required to have at least one of the pre-approved medical conditions.
To get a card, patients must visit a medical marijuana doctor, certified by the state to recommend medical marijuana in Ohio. This doctor reviews your medical history, performs a brief examination and determines if you qualify for a medical marijuana card in Ohio. The doctor then writes a recommendation and sends it off to the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. From there, the Board of Pharmacy registers you as a medical marijuana user and issues your medical marijuana card.
What Is A Medical Marijuana Caregiver?
A caregiver is a person who can buy, transport, possess and administrator medical marijuana to a registered medical marijuana patient. This person is designated by the patient to care for their needs. This can be a parent, guardian, nurse, spouse or any applicable significant other. In some states, there is virtually no limit to how many patients a caregiver can have under their wing, allowing for marijuana delivery services. That is not the case in Ohio, though, as each patient can have a maximum of two caregivers and an individual can only claim caregiver status for two patients themselves.
However, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy recently approved new guidelines where patients can now have a maximum of three caregivers and caregivers can serve up to three patients. This will remain in effect until further notice from the state board.
How Do I Become A Medical Marijuana Caregiver in Ohio?
Thankfully, the process to becoming a registered medical marijuana caregiver in Ohio is not very difficult, but there are a few minor hurdles that people must jump in order to get registered.
According to Ohio's medical marijuana caregiver resource, becoming a caregiver is simple and easy, requiring the following steps:
Registry Identification Cards: All patients and caregivers wishing to obtain medical marijuana must receive a state-issued medical marijuana patient ID card.
Caregiver Eligibility: Individuals 21 and older can serve as a caregiver for no more than two medical marijuana patients. Each patient can have up to two caregivers.
Patient and Caregiver Registration: The recommending physician, or a physician delegate, must submit the caregiver and patient's name to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy medical marijuana patient and caregiver registry following their recommendation for medical marijuana.
Due to the new temporary guidelines set by the Board of Pharmacy due to COVID-19, caregivers can now submit their own Caregiver Registration application directly to the state board as well. However, this option is only available to patients who are already active in the registry.
Registration Fees: The annual registration fee for a patient is $50. The registration fee for caregivers is $25. Veterans receive a 50% discount on this registration fee.
Minors: Patients under the age of 18 are required to have a parent or legal representative serve as their caregiver.
Unfortunately, due to the restrictions for how many patients a caregiver can care for, marijuana patient-caregiver delivery services seen in many other states with active medical marijuana programs are effectively banned in Ohio. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program began to allow appeals to Ohio HB 523 in November 2018. It is possible we will see a legal challenge to the caregiver patient limit at some point in the future, though that remains to be seen.
Patients suffering from one of the 21 qualifying medical conditions need only have their caregiver receive a recommendation from their medical marijuana doctor to become a caregiver. The doctor sends off this recommendation to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, who contacts the patient and caregiver to collect their registration fees. After this point, patients and caregivers have access to every Ohio medical marijuana dispensary.