Medical Marijuana Update — Implementation Is in Sight

By Joseph J. Feltes, JD
Thursday, August 30, 2018

What began in 2016 with the General Assembly’s passing of House Bill 253 (Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Law) now has its scheduled implementation date — September 8 — in sight. Well, almost. Construction setbacks due to Ohio’s cold and wet winter, as well as delays in licensing marijuana growers, likely will push back the date for Ohio’s medical cannabis program to become fully functional, despite the statutory deadline.

Still, an increasing number of Ohio physicians are submitting applications on-line to the State Medical Board of Ohio for a Certificate to Recommend marijuana under the Medical Marijuana Control Program. As of June, 139 physicians (MDs and DOs) with unrestricted Ohio licenses, DEA registration, and OARRS access, who have taken the required CME, have been approved for Certificates to Recommend. Further applications, which may be submitted without cost though the Board’s eLicense portal, will be reviewed by the Board’s licensure team and presented to the full Board for approval at each monthly meeting.

Despite its legalization, Ohio physicians cannot legally prescribe medical marijuana because federal law considers marijuana to be a Schedule I controlled substance. And, physicians cannot recommend marijuana until the Medical Marijuana Control Program is fully operational. That means the Department of Commerce must inspect and grant certificates of operation to Level I and Level II cultivators, processors and testing labs, and the Pharmacy Board must license marijuana retail dispensaries, as well as register and issue medical marijuana cards to patients.

Once operational, certified physicians may recommend medical marijuana to treat a list of 21 qualifying medical conditions: AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic and severe or intractable pain, Parkinson’s disease, positive status of HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.

Joseph J. Feltes, JD

That list is expected to grow, as the State Medical Board has established November 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018 as the first submission period for petitions to add a qualifying medical condition to the Medical Marijuana Control Program.

Petitions must include the specific disease or condition requested to be added, information from experts who specialize in the study of that disease or condition, relevant medical or scientific evidence, consideration whether conventional medical therapies are insufficient to treat or alleviate the disease or condition and other types of medical or scientific documentation, as well as letters of support provided by physicians.

For now, state regulators continue to push hard for a sustainable supply of legalized medical marijuana to be available on or shortly after September 8 in order to help combat Ohio’s opioid epidemic.

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 or email Mr. Feltes at