Ohio General Assembly Passes Bill Expanding Medical Marijuana Program

Earlier this month, the Ohio General Assembly passed a bill that could permanently authorize the temporary options permitted during the pandemic for telehealth visits to health care providers, including those who recommend medical marijuana. In addition, the Bill would dramatically expand the state’s medical marijuana program by allowing doctors to recommend cannabis for patients who can “reasonably be expected” to benefit from it.

Current law authorizes a physician who holds a certificate to recommend medical marijuana from the State Medical Board to suggest treatment with medical marijuana to a patient with a qualifying medical condition. Before recommending treatment with medical marijuana, a physician must establish a physician-patient relationship with the patient seeking medical marijuana treatment. To establish this physician-patient relationship, a physician must conduct an in-person physical examination of the patient.

Once a physician-patient relationship is established, a physician may issue a recommendation for treatment with medical marijuana to a patient. A written recommendation for treatment with medical marijuana is valid for 90 days. Current law authorizes a physician to renew a recommendation for not more than three additional 90-day periods. After that point, a physician must conduct another in-person examination of a patient before issuing a new recommendation to the patient.

House Bill 122 would authorize a physician to utilize telehealth services to conduct these required patient examinations, significantly changing the medical marijuana industry. The Bill is expected to become law in early 2022.