When Ohio lawmakers passed House Bill 523 in June 2016, it was a day of celebration for cannabis advocates. This piece of legislation legalized the use of MMJ in the state. HB 523 went into effect in September 2016. Unfortunately, it took a significant period before the program became fully operational.
It finally happened in September 2018, and the first four dispensaries opened in January 2019. Now, patients with a qualifying condition can gain certification and visit a cannabis dispensary. If you suffer from one or more of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program’s qualifying conditions, you can apply for an MMJ card. We’re here to tell you how to do it in a few quick and easy steps.
Ohio Medical Marijuana Laws
There is a strong possibility that recreational cannabis will come to Ohio, potentially in late 2022. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has been permitted to collect the 133,000 signatures needed before the 2022 legislative session. If lawmakers reject the measure, the Coalition will require another 133,000 signatures to get an adult-use cannabis measure on the November 2022 ballot.
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio. At present, you must be a medical marijuana patient to access cannabis in the state legally.
Although Ohio’s MMJ program is only recent, the state decriminalized the possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis in 1975. If you’re caught with a small amount of cannabis, you could receive a $150 fine but no jail time. However, the offense is classified as a minor misdemeanor and could result in the loss of your driving license for a period of six months to five years.
Being caught in possession of between 100 and 200 grams is a misdemeanor and could result in a 30-day prison term. The possession of 200+ grams is a felony, which could lead to a year in jail.
Selling any amount of cannabis is a felony, and it is illegal to give marijuana to someone else for free. Giving away less than 20 grams is a minor misdemeanor but becomes a jailable crime (up to 60 days) for a second offense.
Finally, Ohio’s penalties for growing marijuana are identical to the possession penalties for an equivalent amount. As a result, the best way to stay legally protected when using cannabis in Ohio is to apply for an MMJ card.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Ohio
The state’s Board of Pharmacy (OBP) issues all medical cannabis licenses and ID cards in Ohio. Only Ohio residents aged 18+ with a qualifying condition can apply in the standard fashion. There is a different process for minors.
Before applying, make sure you have one of the following forms of valid ID:
- Ohio driver’s license
- Ohio ID card issued by the bureau of motor vehicles (BMV)
- United States passport
The steps to take when applying for a medical marijuana card in Ohio are as follows:
Step 1 – Find a Physician
All doctors recommending MMJ in Ohio must have a “Certificate to Recommend” (CTR) from the State Medical Board. Moreover, all recommendations must come from (and be submitted by) a practicing Ohio state-licensed physician. For example, you cannot get a recommendation from a physician in California and submit it to the state of Ohio as registration.
Moreover, you must have a “bona fide physician-patient relationship” with the recommending physician. The term “bona fide” is not precisely defined and is apparently at the discretion of the state of Ohio.
You can check sites such as Ohiomarijuanacard.com to find ‘marijuana-friendly’ physicians in the state. All of the doctors on the list are board-certified physicians who have completed an extensive medical marijuana course. Additionally, these physicians are certified by the state to recommend the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Doctors recommending MMJ must have a Certificate to Recommend, and there should be a bona fide relationship between physician and patient.
Regardless of how you do it, you need to find a physician and book an appointment. During the consultation, the doctor will ask questions about your medical history. They will attempt to determine if MMJ is suitable for your needs.
If you have one of the qualifying conditions, you may receive the doctor’s recommendation. If this happens, they must submit the complete patient registration form on your behalf and add a caregiver if required. You cannot submit your own signed recommendation.
The doctor must submit the form to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy within 90 days of providing certification. The complete physician recommendation for medical marijuana includes a TON of different information. You can find it all listed on the state’s compliance form. Your physician’s office is responsible for completing it and sending it to the OBP for review.
Step 2 – Get Registered
Once your physician has entered you into the registry, you will receive an email to log into your Patient Registry account. Here, you need to pay the Ohio medical marijuana application fee to the Board of Pharmacy. Bear in mind that you also have to pay a hefty sum to the doctor for the consultation. Those who qualify for veteran or indigent status could receive a fee reduction.
Step 3 – Find a Dispensary!
You also need to provide one of the forms of ID we mentioned at the beginning. The Board of Pharmacy will review the application and return it if it is not complete. If approved, you are added to the Ohio MMCP Registry. You should receive your MMJ card in as little as two weeks.
These days, it is possible to use a service such as NuggMD and complete the process entirely online.
If you have any further questions, we recommend contacting the MMCP program directly at:
Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program
77 South High Street, 17th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 466-4143
What Are the Ohio Medical Marijuana Costs?
You have to pay a $50 fee to the Board of Pharmacy. The caregiver’s fee is $25. Patients on SSI or SSDI, or those who are veterans, may qualify for a fee reduction and pay just $25 for their MMJ card in Ohio.
The price of a consultation varies, though it is usually in the $200 region. The cost of cannabis was initially exceptionally high in Ohio. In the first two months of sales, the average price of an ounce was $471. By the end of 2019, it had only fallen slightly to around $442. However, it seems to have dropped to approximately $328 for an ounce of top-shelf cannabis and less than $250 for mid-range weed.
What Conditions Qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card in Ohio?
You must have one of the following qualifying conditions to get an MMJ card in Ohio:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
- Crohn’s disease
- Hepatitis C
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Chronic pain, severe or intractable pain
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Sickle cell anemia
- Spinal cord disease, or injury
- Tourette Syndrome
- Traumatic brain injury
- Ulcerative colitis
On September 11, 2019, the State Medical Board of Ohio formally rejected adding anxiety and autism to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. It seems likely that the Ohio MMJ program will ultimately add further qualifying conditions as cannabis advocates continue to petition for changes.
How to Renew an Ohio Medical Marijuana Card
MMJ cards in Ohio are valid for 360 days. However, the Ohio MMJ registration date always falls on the final day of the month that your card is renewed. You can purchase a total of four x 90-day (or eight x 45-day) supplies before having to renew.
You need to renew before your card expires if you want to continue as a medical marijuana patient. Doing so involves going to the Ohio Patient & Caregiver Registry and using the login created when you initially applied for your MMJ card.
You can log into the Registry up to 90 days before your card’s expiration date, and frankly, it is best to begin the renewal process as soon as possible. You need to visit a physician for fresh MMJ certification before renewing. Once you receive the new recommendation, visit the Registry, click on ‘Renew Card’ and pay the renewal fee.
After making payment, you’ll be directed to your profile page on the Registry, where a new photograph of your MMJ card with the updated expiration date will appear. Please note that online providers such as Green Health Docs promise to make the renewal process quick and easy. You can book an online appointment with a doctor, earn certification, and get your card without leaving the house!
Remember, a failure to renew a patient registration will result in an automatic suspension. Then you’ll have to go through the initial process all over again.
Other Information on the Ohio Medical Marijuana License Process
Although the application process is straightforward, there is a lot of additional information to consider. We answer a few of the most frequently asked questions in this section.
I’m from out of State: Can I Still Buy Medical Marijuana in Ohio?
The law requires that the Board of Pharmacy attempt “in good faith to negotiate and enter into reciprocity agreements with other states.” This means Ohio is unlikely to accept your out-of-state MMJ card as it hasn’t yet entered into any agreements with other states. You can certainly get in touch with a dispensary to ask them directly, though.
How Much Medical Marijuana Can I Purchase?
A patient (or their caregiver) must purchase a minimum of one “whole day unit” of marijuana per transaction. A whole day unit is defined as:
- One-tenth of an ounce (2.83 grams) of plant material
- 295 mg of THC contained in a patch, lotion, cream, or ointment
- 110 mg of THC contained in oil, tincture, capsule, or edible for oral administration
- 590 mg of THC contained in oil for vaporization
In terms of possession, a qualified patient or their caregiver may possess up to a 90-day supply of cannabis. This equates to a maximum of:
- 8 ounces of Tier I* cannabis
- 3 ounces of Tier II cannabis
- 55 grams of THC in lotions, patches, creams, and other topicals
- 9 grams of THC in capsules, oils, tinctures, and other edible forms for oral administration
- 1 gram of THC in medical marijuana oil for vaporization
Terminally ill patients have higher limits.
As of April 17, 2020, the Board of Pharmacy created a new 45-day fill period for MMJ patients. Your 90-day recommendation is divided into two of these new periods. You can purchase a complete 45-day supply at any time during a 45-day block.
For instance, if you haven’t yet purchased it during a fill period, you can buy it on day 42. Then you could buy another 45-day supply four days later. However, there is no ‘rollover’ from one period to the next.
You can learn more about this process on the Ohio Board of Pharmacy website. The state is considering changing the limits as many MMJ patients run out of cannabis long before either 45-day period is up.
*Tier I cannabis refers to MMJ with a maximum THC content of 23%. Tier II cannabis relates to plant material containing more than 23% THC but less than 35%. Tier I and Tier II marijuana count differently towards your limit.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Ohio Online
It has never been easier to get an MMJ card in Ohio without leaving your living room! Organizations such as NuggMD, Green Health Docs, and Marijuana Doctor enable you to go through the entire process online. It looks something like this:
- Ensure that you have one of the qualifying conditions before proceeding.
- Schedule an online appointment with a fully licensed doctor in Ohio.
- Complete the evaluation. The Ohio MMJ program allows patients to see doctors via telemedicine throughout the global pandemic.
- After discussing your requirements, the physician decides whether you’re eligible for MMJ. The success rate on sites such as NuggMD is extremely high.
- If you get approved, you get an email telling you to register with the Ohio MMJ Patient Registry. You must complete the registration process within 90 days.
- After paying your fee, you will receive your MMJ card and can purchase cannabis at a licensed dispensary.
Can I Take My Meds from Ohio to a Different State?
No. Medical marijuana patients may face federal and local charges of transporting marijuana if they cross state lines with the drug. This is true even if the states between which they are traveling allow medical marijuana. Should you need to travel with your marijuana, it is best to contact the state’s Bureau of Health.
Who Can Use Medical Cannabis in Ohio?
Only patients aged 18+ may apply. If a prospective patient is younger than 18, a patient registration submission must be accompanied by a caregiver registration submission. This practice is under rule 3796:7-2-03. Patients who become 18 during the period in which their registration is valid may apply for a new registration immediately.
Can I Use Medical Marijuana Anywhere in the State?
It is important to remember that marijuana consumption is illegal on a federal level. You should consume your medicine responsibly according to the laws of the state. At present, Ohio does not allow for the use of marijuana in public locations. You can only use your MMJ at home or in a private residence.
Can I Grow Cannabis at Home?
At present, MMJ patients are not permitted to grow marijuana at home.
What Is Affirmative Defense?
In Ohio, the initial legislation allowed for an ‘affirmative defense’ provision. If you were caught with cannabis and no MMJ card but had a written statement from a doctor proving that you were eligible, you were not convicted.
This legal defense was only supposed to be available for a maximum of 60 days after the Board of Pharmacy started accepting applications. It helped people avoid a conviction rather than preventing a criminal charge. Do NOT assume it is still in place! Make sure you receive your MMJ card before purchasing cannabis in Ohio. Also, keep it with you at all times.
Am I Allowed to Use a Caregiver?
Yes, you can use a caregiver in Ohio, and they are allowed to help a maximum of three MMJ patients. This is a new temporary provision. Initially, a caregiver could only assist a maximum of two patients. Only Ohio residents aged 21+ are permitted to become caregivers. At present, caregivers can submit their applications directly to the Board of Pharmacy. The registration fee is $25.
Where Can I Purchase Cannabis in Ohio?
The MMJ program allows for up to 60 dispensaries, although the state only awarded 57 licenses. At the time of writing, there are 55 dispensaries open for business in the state. However, in April 2021, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy approved plans to expand the number of dispensaries in the state.
Businesses can apply for 73 new dispensary licenses, which means there could be up to 130 dispensaries in Ohio in 2022. This is a necessary change given the rapid growth of MMJ patients in the state.
Final Thoughts on Getting an Ohio Medical Marijuana Card
The Ohio MMJ program is relatively well-established, as is the method of getting a medical marijuana card. You can now avail of the services of companies like NuggMD, which make the entire application process quick and easy. While Ohio has decriminalized the possession of under 100 grams of cannabis, you could still lose your driving license if convicted.
If you are unsure whether you’re eligible for MMJ in Ohio, please note that CBD oil is widely available in the state without the need for an MMJ card. Learn more by visiting this link: All you need to know about CBD oil in Ohio.