Sáb. Nov 28th, 2020

Patients in Ohio’s medical marijuana program have long complained about the complicated way the state calculates how much marijuana they can buy in a 90-day period.

That could soon change.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy is reviewing the “90-day supply” after receiving more than 50 public comments about how the existing limits are burdensome.

Ohio limits patients to 8 ounces of dried flower, or the equivalent amount of THC in products, in 90 days. But that amount is reduced by the products purchased in the last 90 days on a rolling basis, as well as how many days have elapsed in the current 90-day recommendation period.  Furthermore, the minimum amount of dried flower that can be sold – 2.83 grams – doesn’t multiply into 90 days, so patients lose two days from their allowance for what should be a single-day unit. 

The result: Patients are rarely able to buy what they need, when they need it. Many report «running out of days» far in advance of the 90th day of their recommendation. The Enquirer first reported problems with the 90-day supply in March 2019 and again in January.

Smoking and growing marijuana are still off the table – those are banned in state law, so state agencies lack the authority to change them. The pharmacy board recommended in December changes to the minimum amount of flower sold to eliminate the rounding and make every purchase equal a set amount of days.

But the board is now considering other ways to simplify what’s become a major frustration among patients.

«We don’t want the patients to worry about ‘how many days I have left? how many days have I bought?» Pharmacy Board Executive Director Steven Schierholt said at a Thursday meeting of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Board meeting. «We don’t want the dispensaries to have to struggle with it.»

One commenter said they had yet to hear anything positive about the 90-day supply. 

«Everyone hates it. Please change it so that it is more fair to patients, better for the economy, and better suited to fight the black market,» they wrote in redacted comments obtained through a public records request. 

Among the comments received, several people suggested the state set a daily purchase limit. But board spokesman Cameron McNamee said that might clash with the law’s requirement to set a 90-day supply. Other suggestions included scrapping the state’s more restrictive limit on high-THC marijuana.

“We’re not taking anything off the table,” McNamee told The Enquirer. “We’ve got the comments and we’re going to sit down and have a discussion.”

McNamee said the board will also consider other ways patients could qualify for «indigent status» that affords them discounts at dispensaries. Earlier this week, the pharmacy board decided to recognize as indigent former state employees receiving disability payments through state retirement systems.

McNamee expects revised program rules to be announced in April or May, which would push back any changes from taking effect until the summer. Public comment would again be accepted at several points before the changes are finalized.

Meanwhile, the state expects a fix in the coming weeks to the website patients use to check how much they have purchased and what they are allowed to buy. That system has been plagued with problems, leading many people to call the pharmacy board directly for an update on their purchase history.

More than 84,000 patients have registered for Ohio’s medical marijuana program as of Jan. 31. About 28% have yet to buy anything at an Ohio dispensary. Industry analysts point to that figure as well as the state’s slow roll-out of dispensaries as reasons why the first year of sales lagged projections and initial year numbers for similar programs in other states.

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