Ohio releases fresh guidance to assist patients in gaining access to medicine during COVID-19

Ohio releases fresh guidance to assist patients in gaining access to medicine during COVID-19

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

New information has been made available to patients who are enrolled in Ohio’s medical cannabis program amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance was published by the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) with the primary goal of simplifying the process of obtaining medicine among registered patients.

As per the announcement, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy has revealed that caregiver registration will be expanded temporarily. Now, patients will be able to have a maximum of three assigned caregivers; applications can be submitted directly to the Board. This, the MMCP affirms, will ensure that restrictions on travel and socializing don’t inflict hardship on patients who require the help of a caregiver.

Since the coronavirus crisis first unfolded across the U.S. back in January, the need for medical cannabis in Ohio has become increasingly apparent. Dispensaries spread across the state have been deemed “essential business” and have been given the green light to continue serving customers; despite the stay-at-home order that was imposed on March 22.

Ohio’s medical cannabis program has new photo identification requirements, phone orders

Expired identification cards will now suffice for receiving medicine, with the board having introduced a new set of photo identification requirements. However, it should be noted that only specific medical conditions will qualify for these updated requirements. In regards to patients under the age of 18 that require medical cannabis in Ohio, birth certificates will be accepted as a form of identification. 

Moreover, the board is now inviting patients and caregivers to make an order for medical cannabis in Ohio over the phone; orders can be placed directly with licensed dispensaries. The board says that not only will this ensure patients have continued access to their medicine but also, it safeguards dispensary workers from being laid off amid the COVID-19 panic. Patients who require a consultation with their doctor – such as for card renewals and registration – can do so using telemedicine, so as to limit person-to-person contact.

Dispensaries must be sanitary to reduce the risks of COVID-19 being transmitted from surfaces and employees to the products being delivered to patients. The MCPP’s new guidance states that dispensaries must designate six-foot distances between patients and budtenders. In addition to this, employees and patients will have access to house sanitizer on the premises. Patients who are more susceptible to being infected must be served separately to customers who fall under the low-risk category.

Ohio recently reported record monthly cannabis sales monthly cannabis sales

It’s a good job that the MMCP has updated guidance for medical cannabis in Ohio, because demand is soaring. The state pulled in record-high sales in its most recent revenue report; almost $30 million worth of medical cannabis was sold in the state’s licensed dispensaries during the month of March.

These figures come courtesy of Crain’s Cleveland Business. Notably, the state legal medical cannabis sales started climbing during the middle of March, which was around the time that residents were ordered to stay at home as a precautionary measure. During the week of March 16, sales revenue jumped to $3.8 million — the most revenue to be recorded for a single week since medical cannabis sales started on January 16, 2019.

Based on the recent spike in revenue, this data suggests that patients are concerned about stocking up in fear of supply chains running dry. Since dispensaries have been considered “essential business”, medical cannabis retail stores in Ohio will be allowed to remain open for the duration of the quarantine/self-isolation phase.