Save Telemedicine in Ohio

Telemedicine For Medical Marijuana Ends Sept. 17 — Don’t Let That Happen

  • Medical marijuana doctors in Ohio have until Sept. 17th to wrap up any scheduled telemedicine appointments.
  • Many politicians are still opposed to medical marijuana use and telemedicine. 
  • Ending the use of telemedicine will do more harm than good.
  • Find out how to contact your legislators to ask them to take another look at this issue. 

On September 17, 2021, the use of telemedicine by Ohio medical marijuana doctors will come to an end. 

According to an official statement: “Beginning again on September 17, 2021, if a provider is licensed by the State Medical Board of Ohio and fails to follow the laws and rules governing in-person patient visits, they could be subject to a disciplinary action by the State Medical Board of Ohio.” 

It will literally be against the law for a medical marijuana doctor to consult via telemedicine to approve a patient for an Ohio medical marijuana card. Follow-up appointments must also be done in person. 

Covid and telemedicine for medical marijuana

In the spring of 2020, in the face of a global pandemic, many U.S. states relaxed telemedicine rules via emergency orders. Most states with medical marijuana programs allowed the use of telemedicine for patients seeking a medical marijuana card. 

Prior to this, most medical marijuana states required patients to meet with their doctors in person for an initial examination. Some also permitted telemedicine for follow-up appointments.

As the Covid curve began flagging, many states lifted emergency measures thus ending the use of telemedicine for medical marijuana patients. Ohio ended emergency regulations in June. They are giving doctors until September 17th to comply to the old rules.

With Covid numbers in Ohio are spiking again, may be time to quickly reconsider this move.

Ending the use of telemedicine for medical marijuana appointments — or any other appointment —  is a horrible idea

Medical patients are among the most vulnerable — not just to Covid but to a slew of other medical and safety issues. Patients who are homebound, immunocompromised, or disabled have the most to benefit from the use of telemedicine. And prohibiting telemedicine hurts these people the most.

The fact that we’re still threatened by Covid makes matters even worse. Lawmakers need to put things in perspective. Covid is, in fact, killing people. The process of hauling off to a doctor’s office puts people at risk for catching and spreading Covid. 

One patient can contract Covid (or any other virus) or put scores of others in danger including the doctor, their staff, other patients that must be seen in person, and anyone they interact with along the way. If they are using public transportation the numbers rise considerably. 

Ending telemedicine can also be bad for Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries which will see a reduction in sales as a result. 

Is the old way really better for everyone? It’s actually more harmful to everyone to go backward. Moving forward with telemedicine — not just for medical marijuana patients, but for everyone for whom it’s useful — is good for everyone. It’s good for the patients. It’s good for the doctors and their employees. It’s good for the public. And it’s also good for the environment.

Why are some politicians opposed to the use of telemedicine for medical marijuana appointments?

Politicians that are opposed to the use of telemedicine for medical marijuana patients will say that they are simply looking out for the well-being of their citizens. They are certainly not looking out for the well-being of those who need their help the most. 

Does prohibiting the use of telemedicine protect patients from doctors making bad decisions? That’s highly unlikely in the vast majority of cases. Does it prevent full-grown adults from taking advantage of the system? Again, not likely. It’s easy enough for an able-bodied pothead to get a medical marijuana card in Ohio.

In many states, it’s far easier to get a prescription for Percocet, oxycodone, gabapentin, methocarbamol, Vicodin, benzodiazepines, Gabapentin, and benzodiazepines — all of which are highly addictive and can cause death.

The use of telemedicine is alive and well — in some states

Medical marijuana has been steamrolling through state after state. But the fact is, many lawmakers still think of marijuana as the “evil weed.” This is in spite of the fact that we have every indication that marijuana is far safer than many prescription drugs.

In Colorado, lawmakers tried but failed to get an extension on telehealth. And in Feb. of this year, South Dakota lawmakers struck down a bill that would have allowed telemedicine appointments for medical marijuana recommendations calling the practice “premature” and “not ready for prime time.”

Even states with adult recreational use marijuana laws such as Massachusetts and Colorado are rolling back their emergency telehealth rules and making things more difficult for everyone. 

However, the use of telemedicine in medical marijuana treatment is gaining ground in some states. in places like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, they can’t get enough of telemedicine. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy rejected a telehealth bill earlier this year because it doesn’t go far enough fast enough. Murphy’s concern was there was a delay of a whopping 270 days before it would take effect. 

Here’s what Gov. Murphy had to say: “I am concerned, however, that the bill places undue limitations on the use of telehealth in this context that are overly restrictive and unnecessary for patient safety. For example, the bill would immediately, and for a period of nine months, disqualify many patients who have been successfully utilizing telehealth and telemedicine services.” He went on to say, “I do not agree with resurrecting old barriers to access, particularly as the pandemic continues.”

This is one issue we need to get right!

Not only should telemedicine appointments be permitted, but they should also be required for a first consultation. Then if the doctor decides for some reason that he or she needs to see the patient in person, they can do so. This will save lives, time, and money for everyone.

We need to help Ohio legislators see the problem from another perspective if we want good governance on this issue. Contact your Ohio legislators. Send them a brief email and ask them to take another look at the pros and cons of the use of telehealth. Include a link to this article or put it in your own words. Let’s get this done for everyone. 

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