The medical marijuana program in Ohio has gotten a considerable boost given that medical marijuana is to become legal in the state after September 8, 2018, following House Bill 523.
Medical marijuana regulators in Ohio have eased some of the restrictions set on dispensaries availing the drug to patients.
The state pharmacy board released updated regulations on March 9, 2017.
These new rules were reported by The Columbus Dispatch.
One of the main aspects that have been affected by the rules is the number of medical marijuana dispensaries.
The state will now allow for more than 60 dispensaries, up from the 40 that they originally planned for.
The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy solicited comments from the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee and the public in December 2016 regarding the initial draft of the dispensary rule.
The state board of pharmacy received more than 300 comments, all of which were indexed by category.
Various stakeholders and groups who are interested in the medical marijuana program forwarded their comments to the Board.
These included citizens from Ohio, Ohio businesses, prospective patients and caregivers, and advocacy groups as well as in-state and out-of-state associations in the industry.
The new rules were drafted following feedback from the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, public, regulators from other state and stakeholders.
Detailed below are the changes made to the draft rules.
It is important to note that they are open to public comment until 24 March 2017.
NUMBER OF LICENSES – The number of marijuana dispensary provisional licenses that may be issued by the state board of pharmacy before September 8, 2018, has been increased from 40 to 60.
The Board will be able to award additional licenses after that date.
The decision will be based on state population, patient population, and geographical location.
This means that Ohio residents could be seeing more marijuana dispensaries opening once the rules are in effect.
ADVERTISING – Requirements on advertising pre-approval have been scrapped.
It will now be required that advertisements be submitted before publication.
This is the same model adopted by the Food and Drug Administration in regards to traditional pharmaceutical products.
A number of items have been prohibited as requested by a large percentage of the public commenters.
These include the use of slang terminology, clothing, marijuana leaves, broadcast advertisements, and handheld signs.
DISPENSARY FEES – The biennial fee set for a dispensary certificate of operation was reduced to $70,000 every 2 years from the initial $80,000 every two years.
The Board’s application fee rules were also revised.
In case an RFA is withdrawn before an award is made, the board will return fees to an applicant.
This may also be the case if permission is granted to withdraw an application as a result of changes in local, state, or federal rules and regulations.
DISPENSARY LOCATION – Dispensaries will not be located within 500 feet of certain rehabilitation facilities based on feedback from committee members.
CLINICAL DIRECTOR – The position of the clinical director had been removed from the program after a survey was conducted.
This is largely due to a limited number of people ready to take on the responsibilities.
The qualified persons cited employer prohibitions in regards to directing a marijuana pharmacy.
With the revisions, a compromise has been reached whereby the board will enhance training rules to include contracting a professional in relation to the post.
HOURS OF OPERATION – The board increased the number of hours that a marijuana dispensary is allowed to operate.
They will now be permitted to operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. rather than the initial 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. timeline.
HOME DELIVERY AND PURCHASING OPTIONS – The prohibitions on home deliveries still stand and were expanded to include discounts or coupons, with an exception for those benefiting military veterans and indigent citizens.
The board is still reviewing rules for other sections of the program.
Other areas that the revision touched on include unused marijuana, security, surveillance, whistleblower protection, and expired plant material.
One change that could be witnessed is the amount of marijuana that can be prescribed to patients in Ohio.
Final rules have to be issued by the board before September, with marijuana dispensary licenses a year later.
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