On September 8, 2017, the final rules for physician certificates to recommend medical marijuana became effective. This is a further step toward implementing Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Law (House Bill 253), which will become fully operational by September 8, 2018.
To be eligible to receive a certificate to recommend medical marijuana, the applicant must: (1) hold an unrestricted Ohio license to practice medicine/surgery or osteopathic medicine/surgery; (2) have an active DEA registration; (3) have full access to the drug database established and maintained by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy; and (4) a license to prescribe, possess, dispense, administer, supply, or sell controlled substances.
Any physician who has had a license denied, restricted, or who is subject to disciplinary action by any licensing entity for the inappropriate prescribing, personally furnishing, dispensing, diverting, administering, supplying or selling a controlled substance or dangerous drug is ineligible for receiving a certificate to recommend medical marijuana.
Additionally, an applicant must complete at least two hours of CME certified by OSMA or the Ohio Osteopathic Association regarding: (1) diagnosing qualifying conditions or diseases appropriate for medical marijuana, and (2) treating qualifying medical conditions with medical marijuana, including recognizing possible drug interactions.
Finally, in order to be eligible to recommend medical marijuana, the applicant must not have an ownership, investment interest, or compensation agreement with any licensed medical marijuana entity, including cultivators, processors, testing labs, or dispensaries.
The applicant must file a completed application under oath to the State Medical Board. An application is considered complete if it contains evidence that the applicant satisfies each eligibility requirement and is not under disciplinary investigation by the Board.
The Board will thoroughly investigate each application, which may include requesting additional information or requiring the applicant to appear before the Board (or Board representative) to answer questions.
If the Board requires additional information, which the applicant fails to produce within 6 months from the date the Board receives the application, the application will be deemed abandoned as incomplete. Interestingly, an applicant may not withdraw the application for a certificate to recommend marijuana without the Board’s approval.
If the application is complete (including any investigation and request for updated information), the Board will process it and grant the certificate to recommend. If, however, the Board proposes to deny issuing a certificate to recommend medical marijuana, the applicant is entitled to a hearing under the administrative provisions of Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 119.
Renewal of the certificate to recommend will coincide with the physician’s renewal of license to practice, provided that all eligibility requirements are updated and remain in effect, and that the physician completes annually two hours of approved CME regarding medical marijuana.
Revocation and Reinstatement
The Board may suspend or revoke a certificate to recommend treatment if the physician is subject to disciplinary action. Upon suspension, lapse, surrender, or revocation of a physician’s certificate to recommend medical marijuana, the Medical Board will notify the Board of Pharmacy.
A physician whose certificate has been suspended may request reinstatement by filing with the Board a written application for reinstatement, supported by evidence that the physician now: (1) meets all eligibility requirements; (2) pays any imposed administrative fees, civil penalties and fines; and (3) successfully completes additional required training.
The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program continues to make strides that within the next year will permit physicians to recommend medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for treating intractable pain and other qualifying medical conditions or diseases.
Joe Feltes is an attorney with Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs in Canton, OH, and a member of its Health & Medicine Practice Group. He is also the Managing Partner of Buckingham Canton. For more information about the law firm, go to www.bdblaw.com or e-mail Mr. Feltes at JFeltes@BDBLAW.com.