Ohio is simplifying limits on medical marijuana purchases after patient complaints that restrictions prevented them from buying the medicine they need when they need it.
Patients will still be limited to a “90-day supply” of medical marijuana – that’s in statelaw.
But restrictions that cut off many patients before they came close to reaching that amount will be eliminated Friday per a new Ohio Board of Pharmacy policy.
Soon after Ohio medical marijuana sales began last year, patients noticed days on which they didn’t buy any product were subtracted from their 90-day total. So if a patient made his first purchase on day 30 of their recommendation, he could only buy 60 days worth of marijuana products.
Also subtracted: purchases made in the last 90 days. Patients had to wait for purchases to “fall off” after 90 days before they could buy more. The patient portal often showed an inaccurate number of remaining days.
Together, the restrictions created a situation where many patients never were able to buy close to 90 days, which is 8 ounces of dried marijuana or an equivalent amount of products.
The use-it-or-lose-it restriction is gone, as is the rolling 90-day count.
Starting Friday, patients can buy 45 days worth of product at any point in a 45-day period. Unpurchased “days” won’t carry over to the next period, but patients won’t lose them either. So that patient who comes into a dispensary on day 30 could still buy a full 45 days worth of marijuana and buy 45 days more when they return on day 46.
Pharmacy board officials told The Enquirer in early March that they were considering changes to the restrictions to reduce the burden on patients. Friday’s change was approved last week by the board’s executive director and president under a temporary novel coronavirus-related resolution. The full board plans to approve the change in May.
“We hope this will provide greater transparency for patients, caregivers and dispensary employees while still taking steps to ensure patients do not possess more than 90-day supply as stipulated in the Ohio Revised Code,” board spokesman Cameron McNamee said Wednesday in an email.
The board has created an online calculator where patients can find out the dates of each new 45-day purchase window. McNamee said the board is working with a software vendor to update the website where patients can see how many days they have remaining.
Patient concerns have grown in recent weeks amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Medical marijuana is considered “essential” under the state’s stay-at-home order. But patients said the purchase limits forced them to take multiple trips when they would have preferred to just take a few and stock up.
The medical marijuana program has relaxed other rules in the last few weeks, including allowing physicians to recommend medical marijuana over the phone or video chat and allowing dispensaries to offer curbside sales.
More than 88,000 patients have registered for a medical marijuana card in Ohio since December 2018. There are 51 dispensaries that have been approved to open statewide.