• Randy Shaffer

New Doctors Approved, Some Ohio Hospitals Prohibiting Doctors From Recommending Marijuana


There's been a flurry of Ohio MMJ doctor-related news this week, from new doctor approvals by the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, to an interesting piece at Cleveland.com about three major hospitals that have prohibited doctors from recommending medical marijuana. Let's dive right in and see how this affects Ohioans!


Ohio hospitals prohibiting medical marijuana recommendations

Cleveland.com is reporting that doctors who work for Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth are strictly prohibited from recommending medical marijuana through those hospitals. This means that regular patients of these facilities will not be able to get their medical marijuana recommendation there.


Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Carolyn Deming Glaviano explained the reasoning in a statement to Cleveland.com.


“Similar to other major physician associations, the Cleveland Clinic continues to stand by the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process as the most effective way to ensure the safety, efficacy, and purity of medications provided to patients across Ohio," she said. "Until the marijuana products receive regulatory approval, we will not be involved with the distribution of unapproved cannabis products through dispensaries.”


Patients seeking medical marijuana must instead visit their doctor off-site at their private practice in order to receive a recommendation, or they can visit a doctor or doctor services whose practice is specifically geared toward recommending cannabis in Ohio.


New Ohio medical marijuana CTR approvals

Medical marijuana became legal in 2016, but due to unforeseen delays, the infrastructure wasn't ready until late in 2018. In anticipation of that start date, early in the spring, doctors (including those at Ohio Marijuana Card) began getting their certifications to recommend medical marijuana in Ohio.


At current, there are just 319 doctors certified to recommend medical marijuana throughout the Buckeye State. Just this week (Nov. 15, 2018), the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program was set to approve 14 new doctors, bringing the total to 333.


A great deal of these physicians received their CTR so that they can recommend cannabis to end-of-life patients. But many doctors throughout the state will offer MMJ recommendations to qualifying patients. They do this through companies like Ohio Marijuana Card or through their private practice. You can search for Ohio marijuana doctors here, or contact our staff to set an appointment.


300 doctors might seem like a high number to the laymen, but to put it in perspective, let's take a look at the hospitals mentioned in this blog entry. At current, the Cleveland Clinic employs a over 4,000 doctors. MetroHealth employs just over 600. And University Hospitals employs nearly 4,000. So between those three hospitals, there are nearly 10,000 doctors.


How to become a medical marijuana doctor in Ohio

Not every physician, medical practitioner or medical doctor currently practicing medicine in Ohio is capable of recommending that patients receive a medical marijuana card. In order for a doctor to become certified by the state to recommend marijuana, doctors must comply with the following rules:

  • Hold an active, unrestricted MD or DO license from the State Medical Board of Ohio and active registration with the drug enforcement administration

  • Participate in continuing education in the cannabis field by completing an annual Certified Medical Marijuana (cannabis expertise) course

  • Complete an application to obtain a Certificate to Recommend (CTR) from the State Medical Board of Ohio

Doctors and healthcare professionals seeking certification must complete an extensive cannabis expertise course to show they have a comprehensive understanding of medical marijuana. These annual courses can range between two and four hours, and cover a variety of topics, including:​

  • A history of medical cannabis

  • Understanding the endocannabinoid system

  • Phytocannabinoid pharmacology, toxicology, addiction and the side effects of medical cannabis and its constituents

  • Recommending cannabis as a medicine: dosing and delivery

  • Assessing the risks and benefits of cannabinoid therapy with individual patients and identifying good candidates for treatment

  • Clinical indications: chronic pain, spasticity, seizures and PTSD

  • How to create specific cannabis or cannabinoid treatment plans for patients

  • Legal information, both federal and state rules, regulations and laws

Does insurance cover Ohio medical marijuana or marijuana doctors?

Unfortunately, at this time, health insurance providers in Ohio do not offer coverage (of any kind) for medical marijuana or medical marijuana recommendations. This means that patients will not be able to use their current insurance to buy medical marijuana products in dispensaries, nor will they be able to use insurance for their appointment.


This is due to a variety of factors, most of which are not dissimilar from the reasoning of Clinic Clinic and other local Ohio hospitals. Since many hospitals and insurance companies receive federal grants and funding, they are obliged to comply with federal rules and regulations.


At current, marijuana is not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) because cannabis is marked on the Federal Controlled Substances list as a Schedule I narcotic. In other words, in the eyes of the federal government, marijuana has no medicinal value and a high potential for addiction and abuse. This ruling (which has been provisional since 1970) makes regulating marijuana's potency and effectiveness impossible for the FDA.


Many states, like Ohio, have very strict guidelines for medical marijuana cultivation and processing, which help regulate the quality of cannabis in the state. However, some states have looser rules and regulations, leaving the cannabis industry to regulate itself. This, unfortunately, can lead to shady practices, like treating medical marijuana with toxic pesticides, bug or fungal infestations, or spraying chemicals that alter the potency.


Though most states have solid regulations and guidelines, without FDA approval, insurance providers cannot justify the risk of covering cannabis. That may change one day soon as more and more pharmaceutical companies, doctors, politicians, advocates and states add pressure for the federal government to loosen their grip on cannabis. But until that day comes, sadly, marijuana doctors and product expenses will have to come out of the patient's pocket.


If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.


Click here to learn more about what Ohio Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at 1-866-457-5559 and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.

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