The comments from the medical board further underscores the confusion behind the recently enacted law that took effect on September 8, but does not clearly stipulate what a physician can do before rules regulating the new statute are developed—which isn’t likely to occur before September 2017.
“A physician is not permitted to issue a state of Ohio approved written recommendation to use medical marijuana until the physician has obtained a certificate to recommend from the State Medical Board of Ohio,” the medical board to physicians says. “Per House Bill 523, the rules outlining the standards and process needed to obtain such a certificate to recommend will be developed no later than September 8, 2017.”
The medical board acknowledges that the new law does have an affirmative defense provision that in theory would allow a physician to certify a patient has a medical condition that qualifies them to obtain medical marijuana as part of their healthcare treatment. But, as the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA) has noted, the law also says a certification process must be established, which has not occurred.
The OSMA issued a statement on September 8th, 2016 recommending physicians protect their medical license and the well-being of their patients and not do anything until the law is clarified or the medical board offers direction. The OSMA asked the medical board for direction, which led to the state board’s statement.
“According to the law, a patient, parent, or guardian can only raise an affirmative defense if they have, among other requirements, received a written recommendation from his or her doctor that certifies a certain number of criteria are met. The Board recommends that physicians consult with their private legal counsel and/or employer for interpretation of the legislation,” reads the medical board statement.
“The Board recognizes that as a result of the requirements of the affirmative defense, physicians will face potentially challenging inquiries from patients during the time period between the effective date of the statute and the date when the certificate to recommend process is fully operational with the Medical Board,” the statement continues. “The Medical Board will conduct a thorough process in the promulgation of rules related to the certificate to recommend.”
What should be done? Should everyone sit tight? Should they contact their local representative to try and make them understand the program as written, is not working the way it was designed? Do doctors go out a limb and risk being reprimanded to help sick patients in need? Clearly this is turning out to be a big mess right out of the gates, lets hope Ohio politicians and the new Ohio Medical Marijuana Board will get this issues taken care of ASAP.
Stay tuned for more updates on this very hot topic of HB 523, Ohio’s new Medical Marijuana program!