Addressing Confusion in Ohio's Medical Marijuana Program
Updated: Nov 28, 2019
The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program has many unique regulations and rules that can make understanding the program difficult for patients. In response to some of the misconceptions we hear, we worked together with Firelands Scientific to help address a few of the main pieces of confusion that patients feel within the program. This piece wouldn't be possible without the nuanced guidance of Firelands, and we thank the Firelands' team for reaching out to help expand patient education in our series, "Addressing Confusion in Ohio's Medical Marijuana Program."
4 OMMCP Rules to Know Upfront When Purchasing Medical Cannabis Products
From Whole Day Units (WDU) to THC limitations with concentrates, we’ve rounded up important Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program regulations to help provide clarity for patients navigating treatment options.
With cannabis still being classified as a Schedule 1 substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency - providing no accepted medical use in the eyes of the federal government - each state that has legalized cannabis must establish its own set of program regulations and guidelines.
To date, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use, and 11 states have legalized cannabis for adult-use consumption. No two states are identical in how their programs are run. Depending on the state, they’re also regulated by different governmental entities, which can significantly impact the lens through which regulators view their prospective programs. For example, in Oregon, where cannabis is legal both medically and for adult-use, the program is run by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. On the other hand, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP) is run jointly by the state’s Board of Pharmacy and Department of Commerce.
Because each state program is unique, patients in Ohio may see different rules and guidelines than patients in Arizona, or even patients closer to home, like in Pennsylvania or New York. As with any new medical cannabis program, there will inevitably be a learning curve with the state’s respective rules and regulations, with patients left wondering how to navigate their nascent market.
To that end, we’ve rounded up 4 OMMCP regulations regarding medical cannabis products important for patients to know when participating in the program.
1) Cultivators, Processors and Dispensaries Are NOT Permitted to Respond Publicly to Comments on Social Media
While licensees are permitted to maintain a social media presence, their customer service capabilities are severely limited on these platforms, as “direct engagement between the licensee and social media users is prohibited,” according to this guidance by OMMCP. That means, if you leave a comment on a social media post, the licensee cannot respond to you. However, that does not mean patients or stakeholders can’t get in contact with licensees; they simply have to contact them directly. Firelands Scientific, for example, encourages social media followers to send a direct message via its active platforms, or to email info@FirelandsScientific.com if they’d like to interact with the company.
2) Whole Day Units Are Calculated Differently, Depending on the Product
A Whole Day Unit (WDU) is a measurement of cannabis product quantity, and is used to calculate a patient’s 90-day supply maximum of THC. According to Ohio Revised Code 3796:8-2-04:
A patient and a patient caregiver(s) may collectively purchase no less than a whole day unit at a single time. A whole day unit shall equal the following amounts for each authorized form of medical marijuana:
(1) One-tenth of an ounce (2.83 grams) or the "Ohio Tenth"of plant material;
(2) Two-hundred ninety-five milligrams (295 mg) of THC contained in a patch, lotion, cream, or ointment;
(3) One hundred ten milligrams of THC (110 mg) contained in an oil, tincture, capsule, or edible for oral administration;
(4) Five hundred ninety milligrams of THC (590 mg) contained in oil for vaporization.
An added layer of complexity: Patients also have limitations of how much of any product type they’re able to purchase within their 90-day period. These limitations are slightly increased if a patient has a terminal illness. To view those limitations, click here.
Previously, cannabis cultivators and processors could only create products in WDUs - meaning, they could sell no less than 1 WDU in a single product. This rule ended up preventing low THC products from being sold, as the 1 WDU minimum would require an extremely large ratio of CBD or other material to offset the required amount of THC to achieve a minimum of 1 WDU. As a result of this unintended consequence of the original rule, the Board of Pharmacy recently revised its interpretation of the rule to allow products with less than 1 total WDU of THC to be sold. Any product greater than 1 WDU of THC, however, is still required to be sold in WDU increments. For example, edible products with less than the 1 WDU maximum for edibles (110 mg of THC) may be sold, but products with, say, 150 mg of THC, may not be sold as such. Instead, if the product exceeds 110 milligrams, it must have exactly 220 total mg, or 330 mg, and so on to achieve whole increments of the WDU requirement.
3) Potency Requirements Among Medical Cannabis Products Are Not Equal
Ohio has a strict set of potency requirements for medical cannabis products, and they differ depending on the product type.
The potency of flower products may not exceed 35% THC. (Flower products are also divvied into tiers. Tier I flower has less than 23% THC, while Tier 2 flower is 23% to 35% THC, which determine how much of a patient’s 90-day supply of THC is deducted for each WDU purchase.)
The potency of any single manufactured product, which includes concentrates (i.e. Live Rosin, Wax, Shatter, etc.), cannabis oils for vape cartridges or syringes, tinctures, edibles, patches, or other approved forms of medical cannabis, may not exceed 70% total THC.
This limitation, in conjunction with Whole Day Unit rules, can be especially limiting for concentrate products manufacturers, for example, which are also bound to 590 mg of THC per WDU, and may only increase their product quantities in those Whole Day Unit increments. (In contrast, in California’s cannabis program, non-edible products may contain up to 1,000 mg of THC.)
Firelands Scientific’s Solventless Concentrate products - such as Live Rosin, for example - may need their potencies lowered after the cannabis oil is extracted, depending on the cultivar and its particular profile. To do this, we use a small percentage of Broad Spectrum oil extracted from the CBD Rich cultivar AC/DC, which makes a Live Rosin consistency somewhat wetter. (These limitations also explain why there may be less than 1 full gram of concentrate in a single package.)
4) Metered Dosing Mandated by OMMCP Explains Spoons in Concentrates, Batteries with Every Vape Cartridge Purchase
In Ohio’s medical cannabis program, products must have the ability to be metered - meaning, their doses have to be tracked in some quantifiable and repeatable way. In a Cannabis Oil Syringe, for example, that metering requirement is met with the graduated measurements on the syringe. With a Cannabis Tincture, the droppers attached to the child-resistant caps must be graduated with markings.
This requirement also extends to products like Concentrates and Vape Cartridges. With concentrates, producers have been including measured spoons in their packaging in order to properly dose this product. The requirement also explains why batteries are sold with every vape cartridge purchase. Batteries approved for use in the OMMCP include an automatic shut-off mechanism. In other words, after inhaling for a certain number of seconds, i.e. 8 or 10 seconds, the battery prohibits you from consuming any more than a single “dose”. Because the battery is the metering device, vape cartridges without the battery are prohibited from being sold individually.
As this Ohio medical cannabis program continues to mature, it is likely that these rules will be modified in order to provide more flexibility for patients and licensed producers. In the meantime, it’s important to speak up about these issues if they are creating legitimate pain points for the program. We encourage all patients who seek to better understand the current rules, or have suggestions for improvement, to contact the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program at (833-464-6627), as well as your local representatives. Together, through creativity, compassion and civil discourse, we can make this program work better for all those involved!
To learn more about Firelands Scientific, be sure to check out their website for more information.