Medical Marijuana Control Program Update

On September 8, 2016, Ohio House Bill 523 legalized medical marijuana in Ohio. The Medical Marijuana Control Program will allow patients, with certain medical conditions and upon the recommendation of an Ohio-licensed physician, to purchase and use medical marijuana. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program takes effect on September 8, 2018.

Physicians may recommend, but not prescribe, medical marijuana to patients who suffer from certain medical conditions. A physician in Ohio who wants to recommend medical marijuana for a patient must first apply for a Certificate to Recommend through the State Medical Board of Ohio. Applications are available on the Medical Board’s website at http://www.med.ohio.gov.

Ohio physicians applying for the Certificate to Recommend medical marijuana must hold an active and unrestricted Ohio Medical license. Prior to applying for the Certificate, a physician must complete “two hours of continuing medical education” related to diagnosing and treating patients with medical marijuana among other requirements. (See O.A.C. Section 4731-32-02 for more details, and a complete list of Application requirements.)

Prior to recommending medical marijuana for a patient, O.A.C. 4731-32-03 requires that a physician must perform tasks including but not limited to:

• Establish and maintain a bona fide physician-patient relationship;
• Create and maintain a medical record;
• Examine the patient;
• Inquire about the patient’s medical history and any current medications; and
• Include in the patient’s record a diagnosis of the patient’s condition.

There are certain qualifying medical conditions for recommending medical marijuana including but not limited to Parkinson’s disease, ulcerative colitis, fibromyalgia, and cancer. (See R.C. 3796.01(A)(6) for full list of medical conditions).

Qualifying patients must first register with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Prior to recommending medical marijuana, a physician must determine from the medical marijuana patient registry whether the patient has an active registration for medical marijuana. O.A.C. 4731-32-03. Only patients who are registered with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy may receive a recommendation for medical marijuana.

Physicians may recommend medical marijuana to minors with the consent of the minor’s parent or legal representative. O.A.C. 4731-32-03(C)(5).

You can find the Ohio Medical Board rules regarding the Medical Marijuana Control Program at: http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/4731-32.

As always, if you have any questions about this blog or the State Medical Board of Ohio, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at Collis Law Group LLC at (614) 486-3909 or email me at Beth@collislaw.com.

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Ohio physicians: Suspension of your medical license may be just the start of your troubles

The State Medical Board of Ohio has the authority to take a disciplinary action against a physician’s professional license ranging from a Public Reprimand, to suspension, probation, or revocation. In addition, as noted in a previous post, effective September 29, 2015, the Medical Board was granted the authority by the Ohio General Assembly to issue a monetary fine against physicians (or Physician Assistants) found to be in violation of the Medical Practice Act (R.C. 4730 &4731). (See January 11, 2017 blog post about monetary fines).

In addition to a Medical Board disciplinary action, physicians should also be aware that if they are subjected to discipline by the Medical Board, they may also face additional repercussions to their professional practice and livelihood including, but not limited to:

Public Record: All final actions of the Medical Board constitute a public record. The general public will be able to review a summary of the disciplinary action and a copy of the Notice of Opportunity for Hearing, Consent Agreement, or Adjudication Order with Report and Recommendation at the e-license verification page located at: https://elicense.ohio.gov/OH_HomePage.
NPDB: Disciplinary actions of the Medical Board are reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). While the NPDB is not available to the general public, the following eligible entities have access to information on the NPDB: The Department of Health and Human Services, hospitals, health centers, health plans, medical malpractice payors, and state licensing boards. A health care organization can run a continuous query on practitioner reports. Therefore, as soon as you receive discipline from the Board, it is likely your employer will learn about it.
DEA action: A physician’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) license will be suspended during any period of medical licensure suspension. Criminal fines and/or imprisonment are available for any person who knowingly or intentionally (i) possesses a listed chemical with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance without proper registration; (ii) possesses or distributes a listed chemical with knowledge or a reasonable belief that the listed chemical will be used to manufacture a controlled substance; or (iii) evades the Controlled Substance Act’s recordkeeping and reporting requirements by receiving or distributing listed chemicals in small units. Violators of the aforementioned provisions may also be enjoined for up to ten years from handling listed chemicals. The physician must apply to have the DEA reinstated after his or her medical license is reinstated;
Hospital Privileges: Hospital privileges could be suspended or revoked;
Board certifications: Board certifications that the physician has may be limited, suspended, or revoked;
Sister State Discipline: Other state medical boards in which the physician is licensed can institute disciplinary actions based on the Ohio matter;
Medicare/Medicaid participation: A physician’s participation as a Medicaid/Medicare provider may be subject to revocation, thereby excluding them from obtaining reimbursement for services rendered to Medicare/Medicaid patients;
Third Party Payors (Insurance Company participation): Participation as an approved provider for private insurer(s) could be terminated, thereby excluding the physician from obtaining reimbursement for services rendered to patients insured by such insurer(s); and
Bureau of Worker’s Compensation: The BWC can revoke a physician’s certification in the Health Partnership Program—where they participate in a managed-care program for injured workers—if the provider has a misdemeanor committed in the course of practice, involving moral turpitude, or a conviction that is either a felony, cited under the Controlled Substances Act, or is an act involving dishonesty, fraud or misrepresentation. OAC 4123-6-02.2(B)(5).

While each case is different and each physician who is subjected to a disciplinary action by the Medical Board may not be subject to any or all of these additional actions, it is important to understand and appreciate that a Medical Board action may not be the end of the issues that a physician faces when subjected to a Medical Board disciplinary action.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the State Medical Board of Ohio in general, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group at (614) 486-3909 or email me: Beth@collislaw.com.