It’s now easier than ever to get your medical marijuana card in Ohio, as you can now get that Ohio medical marijuana card online. On March 2, 2021, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) released the latest updated guidelines for each US state and territory as regards telehealth requirements in response to COVID-19, including Ohio. As part of these new guidelines, Ohio, along with many other states, lifted restrictions on doctors related to practicing telemedicine. Included in those changes in Ohio, at least, are policies and procedures allowing doctors from out-of-state to conduct medical marijuana evaluations of Ohio residents located within Ohio state borders by using telemedicine.
Pre-existing Ohio Laws Supporting Out-of-State Telemedicine
The Ohio Rev. Code § 4731.36 contains two statutory provisions explicitly supporting out-of-state telemedicine. The first regards physicians treating visitors to Ohio who cannot leave the state for medical care in their home state due to the nature of the emergency. The second regards physicians in states that border Ohio who already have relationships with the patients in question.
Beyond these exceptions, however, there was still no allowance for medical providers out of state to use telemedicine to practice with Ohio patients using telemedicine, until the COVID-19 pandemic required it.
Like most states, Ohio requires a doctor have a valid in-state medical license in order to practice in the state, including using telemedicine. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, out-of-state doctors have been called to assist across borders.
Under the new guidelines crafted to account for this necessity, the Ohio State Medical Board has authorized its staff to work in collaboration with the State Emergency Management Agency and any other identified government agencies to facilitate licensing of out-of-state doctors who respond to a call to help with the coronavirus crisis in Ohio. This includes those doctors who cross the physical state border to practice hands-on in-state as well as those who remain in the state where they practice and maintain a medical license who provide telehealth services to Ohio residents during the crisis.
Note that this is not the same as providing temporary or emergency licensure for physicians out-of-state, which remains prohibited under Ohio law. Lacking a valid legal exemption, the physicians must follow the new guidelines for obtaining an Ohio medical license as an out-of-state physicians in order to practice in Ohio and over telemedicine with Ohio patients. Likewise, and despite all these changes, there are still currently no waivers on the books in Ohio for cross-state medical license reciprocity.
Waiving In-person Visit Requirements
Part of the changes also includes the extension of a waiver on a legal requirement in Ohio medical code that patients and providers conduct at least their initial visit together in person, even if they conduct their visits thereafter over telemedicine. Now, providers can see new patients for the first time using telemedicine, as long as the choice of audio-visual communication used is real-time, even if asynchronous, and of sufficient quality to allow for a meaningful and accurate interaction between provider and patient. What’s more, providers no longer even need to give patients a written documentation of the risks associated with the treatment recommended or authorized before rendering those services. Rather, it suffices for the practitioner to simply verbalize these potential risks.
Ohio Telehealth Guidelines Specific to Marijuana
Since March 9, 2020, medical providers in Ohio have been authorized to use telemedicine instead of in-person appointments for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. These guidelines explicitly state that, for as long as the COVID-19 crisis persists, the State Medical Board of Ohio will cease enforcement of in-person visit requirements contained in existing regulations, including those normally requiring in-person visits for reasons such as to:
- Prescribe a controlled substance
- Prescribe for chronic or subacute pain
- Visits regarding pain management
- Prescribe to a patient not usually seen by the prescribing provider
- Recommendations and renewals for medical cannabis
These suspensions also extend to office-based treatments of patients with opioid addiction. While opioid addiction is not presently one of the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Ohio, there could well be associated conditions or symptoms that do qualify such a patient for medical marijuana, making this suspension potentially relevant to certain patients considering medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids.
Put together, this allows, for at least the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-state and out-of-state physicians to use telemedicine to provide medical marijuana recommendations and renewals to patients in Ohio.
Relevant Permanent Telehealth Changes
Some of the changes to the Ohio State Medical Code in regards to telehealth are written so as to outlive the COVID-19 pandemic. One particular such change, to the Ohio Administrative Code §5160-1-18 expands how the state defines telehealth, now including under that category:
- Telephone calls
- Remote patient monitoring
- Other types of electronic communication that lack both audio and video components
This will undoubtedly make it much easier for patients to get their Ohio medical marijuana cards, even during the COVID-19 emergency.
In addition, Ohio Governor DeWine issued Executive Order 2020-29D on July 16, 2020 that permanently allows several other types of health care practitioners to practice telemedicine. Including among these are registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, both of which are considered Qualified Medical Providers (QMP) to provide medical marijuana recommendations and renewals under Ohio’s medical cannabis laws. This means not only physicians but qualified nurses and nurse practitioners can now use telemedicine to provide medical marijuana authorizations.
To get your Ohio medical marijuana card online, contact us immediately, and we’ll help you set up a telemedicine appointment from your location with a qualified and authorized medical marijuana doctor online.