Ohio’s medical marijuana program has yet to develop fully, but some patient advocates are concerned the rules and regulations coming out of Columbus will make it difficult for college students and people in less-populated areas to receive treatment.
Patients will have to pay an annual $50 registration fee, according to patient and caregiver rules submitted by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Veterans and low-income Ohioans can receive a 50 percent reduction in their registration fee.
Leigh Goldie, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Empowering Epilepsy, said between tuition and fees, paying the annual registration fee on top of medication costs can be difficult for college students. That is especially true for students with conditions such as epilepsy, who may not be able to work.
“Where’s the extra cash for a college student to do this?” Goldie said. “The college cost is just a hurdle in itself. Unless they have a family that has really saved for their college education, that only adds to the hurdle.”
Patients in general have trouble finding stable employment because of the nature of the condition, Goldie said, and even if they apply for Social Security disability benefits, the perception is they are still able to work because the seizures only happen every so often.
Goldie added that students who qualify for medical marijuana might need it to maintain their performance in school. With a condition like epilepsy, for example, certain types of seizures and other epilepsy medications can affect the patient’s memory, making it harder to process information and commit it to long-term memory.
Don Keeney, the resident of the Southeast Ohio chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws — commonly referred to as NORML — said other aspects of the law, such as the number of dispensaries, could pose