Understanding Ohio’s Senate Bill No. 9: Comprehensive Reforms in Medical Marijuana Laws

Ohio’s Senate Bill No. 9 (S.B. No. 9), introduced in early 2023, signifies a pivotal shift in the state’s approach to medical marijuana. This detailed comparison with the existing Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP) highlights the proposed changes and their potential impact on patients, providers, and the overall industry.

Expansion and Regulation of Medical Marijuana Licenses

S.B. No. 9 transfers regulation from the Ohio Department of Commerce and State Board of Pharmacy to a new Division of Marijuana Control within the Department of Commerce. It establishes a 13-member Medical Marijuana Oversight Commission to develop policies and oversee the program.

The bill creates a new “stand-alone processor” license category for companies previously excluded, allowing them to also obtain cultivation licenses. It increases the number of dispensary licenses based on patient numbers, aiming for a 1:1000 ratio. Licenses will be awarded through an impartial, merit-based process instead of a lottery.

Major dispensary ownership is limited to 5 licenses statewide or 5% of total licenses, whichever is greater. Ownership is also limited regionally to prevent concentration.

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Enhancing Access and Quality Control

S.B. No. 9 allows vaporization and consumption of flower with an increased THC limit of 90% for extracts. It permits new forms of consumption like pills, inhalers, topical lotions, and more.

Products must have child-resistant packaging and accurate labeling of cannabinoid content. Curbside pickup and drive-through options will improve patient access.

Telemedicine and Physician Recommendations

Physicians can recommend medical marijuana via telemedicine but must establish a bona fide relationship by reviewing medical history. Recommendations will be valid for 90 days with renewal.

Doctors cannot personally furnish marijuana or recommend it for family members. They must complete continuing education in medical cannabis.

Financial and Legal Protections

The bill exempts financial institutions working with medical marijuana businesses from certain criminal laws. This facilitates banking operations in the industry.

It also strengthens legal protections for compliant patients and caregivers regarding possession and use.

Location and Proximity Restrictions

Facilities cannot be within 500 feet of schools, churches, playgrounds, etc. Existing businesses are protected if a sensitive institution later moves nearby.

Expanding Medical Conditions and Consumption Methods

S.B. No. 9 adds several new qualifying conditions like arthritis, migraines, opioid use disorder. It allows doctors to recommend cannabis for any debilitating condition.

Monthly supply limits increase to 9 ounces of plant material. The state will also implement a patient reciprocity program for access.

Centralized Regulation

  • Current Law: Split regulation between the Department of Commerce and State Board of Pharmacy.
  • S.B. No. 9: Transfers all regulation to a new Division of Marijuana Control under Commerce Dept.
  • Impact: Consolidates oversight into one regulatory body for streamlined administration.

Licensing Changes

  • Current Law: Strict license caps under OMMCP. Provisional licenses awarded by lottery.
  • S.B. No. 9: New “stand-alone processor” license created. Merit-based application process instead of lottery.
  • Impact: Increases licensing opportunities. Prioritizes merits over chance for awarding licenses.

Patient Access Expansions

  • Current Law: Limited dispensaries and restrictive product options under OMMCP.
  • S.B. No. 9: Dispensary expansion, new product forms, increased THC limits, curbside pickup.
  • Impact: Boosts dispensary access for patients. Provides more consumption options.

Physician Recommendations

  • Current Law: In-person exams required for recommendations under OMMCP.
  • S.B. No. 9: Allows telemedicine for recommendations.
  • Impact: Increases recommendation access for patients.

Legal Protections

  • Current Law: Limited protections for financial institutions under OMMCP.
  • S.B. No. 9: Exemptions from certain criminal laws for financial institutions.
  • Impact: Encourages banking services for marijuana businesses.

Conclusion

S.B. No. 9 represents comprehensive improvements to Ohio’s medical marijuana program regarding access, quality, and regulation. It addresses issues faced by key stakeholders to better serve patients.

References

Ohio State Bill 9

Ohio reforms – comparison table of medical marijuana bills – updated 2.2023

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