March 18, 2021

Submitted by Bonnie Rabin, OMMPA Education Specialist

Edited by Glenn Perry, OMMPA Managing Partner

Mandatory Product Recall on Plant Material Sold at Rise Dispensaries

The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP) is recalling three strains of lightly ground plant trim sold for vaporization at Rise Dispensary locations in Cleveland, Lakewood, Lorain and Toledo. These products, named Koala Mints, Blueberry Cheesecake and Wedding Cake, did not receive full testing for heavy metals and mycotoxins. No adverse reactions have been reported but patients who purchased these products should return them to Rise.  More info will follow, after the OMMCP investigation is completed. Here is the OMMCP posting:

OMMCP Launches Patient and Caregiver Newsletter 

OMMCP sent its first newsletter to over 168,571 patients and almost 20,000 caregivers in February 2021. The newsletter shares information about products, laws and other program updates.  This issue covered patient recommendations, registrations and purchase summary tables.

The February newsletter also covered the new tracking system, which lists purchase history and remaining days of supply by fill date for patients in their registry accounts. It also clarified the temporary extension until July 1, 2021 for expiring cards.  Note that doctor recommendations do not likewise extend, and that both the recommendation and the registration must be active for patients to purchase medications at Ohio dispensaries.  

Dispensary Expansion in Ohio

Many medical marijuana patients struggle with high prices and limited geographical access to dispensaries. Although 52 dispensaries have opened in Ohio, many patients must travel significant distances to find one. In contrast, Pennsylvania has 121 dispensaries for a smaller patient population. West Virginia, with a total population of less than two million, has 100 licensed dispensaries.

The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy intends to add more dispensaries.  An application solicitation period will open soon, following approval on changes in the application process, discussed at their March 12th meeting. Like the initial licenses, the new ones will be spread out geographically. Patient access is their top concern, especially with 5,000 new patients being registered each month. Board officials claim Southeast Ohio and the Northwest Corner of the state are most in need of more dispensaries. 

Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee Meets on March 25

The Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee members are appointed by state officials and consist of a wide variety of professionals tasked with examining and setting marijuana program laws and policies for Ohio. Members represent physicians, nurses, caregivers, patients, employers, law enforcement, pharmacy, labor, mental health treatment, academic research and agriculture.  The Advisory Committee will meet on March 25th.  Outcomes from this meeting will be published in the next OMMPA news blast. 

North versus South: The Dakota Differences and Telemedicine

North Dakota voted for medical marijuana in 2016. Now it has almost 5,000 patients, 8 dispensaries but no gummies. House Bill 1391 would make edible products available for medical marijuana patients in North Dakota in the form of soft or hard square lozenges. This bill passed 63-31 in the House on February 18 and is now advancing.

South Dakota voted for medical and adult-use recreational marijuana in the November 2020 election. But while implementing its medical marijuana program, telemedicine appointments were banned.  Thirty-one other states, including Ohio, allow telemedicine in their medical marijuana programs.

At the beginning of the current pandemic, OMMPA’s Managing Partner Glenn Perry wrote a letter to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, pushing for Ohio to approve the use of telemedicine for CTR Physicians. He  wrote, “We thank you for the emergency measures you have put in place to protect the health and wellbeing of Ohio’s citizens during the current pandemic.  We are reaching out to you to request an additional emergency action, to further protect Ohio’s physicians, their patients, and all those who might come in contact with them.” Shortly thereafter, Ohio approved the use of telemedicine. 

NFL Investigates Marijuana and CBD as Opioid Alternatives 

The National Football League’s new 2020 policy eliminates game suspensions for positive drug tests. In February 2021, the NFL and the NFL Players Association filed a notice, seeking new information about marijuana and CBD products to address pain management and improve athletic performance. The league will explore using these medications as routine and post-surgical pain management alternatives.  

The National Basketball Association (NBA) instituted a temporary policy not to randomly test players who are not already under suspicion for drug misuse. Major League Baseball (MLB) removed cannabis from its list of banned substances in 2019. Baseball players can consume marijuana without disciplinary risk but cannot work under the influence nor enter into sponsorship agreements with cannabis companies.

Michigan Marijuana Revenue Funds Municipalities, Government Services and Research 

Michigan collected over $45 million dollars in taxes from its $341 million in legal cannabis sales during 2020. The 10% adult-use marijuana excise tax and additional fees collected will fuel budgets and programs across the state. It will distribute 15% to local municipalities and 15% to counties (nearly $10 million), 35% to education ($11.6 million) and 35% ($11.6 million) to transportation.

An additional $20 million in tax revenue is earmarked for research funding. Based on current recreational sales, the marijuana taxes are expected to double in 2021.

Defining THC Ratios and Potency Limits

One might think the 0.3% legal limit for THC is an absolute in determining the difference between a hemp plant and its marijuana cousin. But the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) met last month to discuss if the limit should be changed to increase the allowed THC level to 1%. An amendment is under discussion.

One might think an edible serving or dose is standardized, but it is not. Alaska’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office is considering raising their individual doses/single package servings from 5 milligrams to 10, which would require changes to their processing, labeling, testing and packaging systems. Like many states, Ohio already uses 10 milligram dosing standards. Alaska purposefully chose a more cautious approach when legalization was adopted in 2015.