Don’t criticizeeeeeee it” – the State Board of Pharmacy, that is, because the State Board of Pharmacy did its job, announcing today that the “Patient and Caregiver Registry” for the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program has been activated, just before dispensary products are expected to be available to patients.

Seeing that only 336 physicians have been granted a Certificate to Recommend medical marijuana in Ohio, it seems likely that their respective emails and phones will be blowing up with calls for appointments by patients who believe they suffer from one of the 21 qualifying medical conditions to purchase medical marijuana. Based on the estimation that 200,000 patients will eventually be registered in the program, that amounts to an average of 595 patients per physician! Fast times, indeed.

This announcement allows qualifying patients to receive a recommendation and actually be registered as a patient and/or caregiver with the Board of Pharmacy, simultaneously, giving the patient and caregiver access to a dispensary to make a purchase. However, no one will have access until those dispensaries have product to sell. One cultivator with a certificate of operation has indicated it may have a small batch of medical marijuana – in plant form only – in the coming weeks. Not all dispensary locations will be open at first; dispensaries will continue to open into early 2019. Consequently, the supply, variety and statewide availability of medical marijuana products will be limited for the rest of 2018 and possibly into the early months of 2019.

Physicians can learn how to register a patient or caregiver into the Patient and Caregiver Registry here. For those physicians who remain undecided on whether to apply for a Certificate to Recommend, I suggest learning as much as possible about the law to determine how medical marijuana may or may not fit into their practice of medicine. As a helpful starting point, please check out my Physician’s Guide to Cannabis Compliance Part 1 and Part 2. Additionally, senior living facilities and health systems will need to determine whether they will allow medical marijuana utilization on their premises and whether any of their employed physicians will be allowed to recommend medical marijuana as part of their practice. To aid in those risk-tolerance questions, senior living facilities should first check out this post, and hospitals will find help here. Those physicians and organizations that ultimately recommend medical marijuana will need to develop policies and procedures to follow the standard of care and ensure state law compliance.