UnitedOhio is a patient advocacy group seeking comprehensive and regulated access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. Our coalition has years of experience working with patients and medical professionals, studying what works and what does not, in the 23 other states in our union that have legalized cannabis in some form.
Based on our experience, and with feedback from the medical professionals, patients and the cannabis legalization advocacy community, we developed the following Patient Priorities. Our priorities are focused on what we believe are the most critical to making cannabis reform work for the most vulnerable – Ohio’s patients.
While the wish list for cannabis reform is long, UnitedOhio believes we cannot put what we want in front of what patients need.
Priorities for Medical Cannabis Reform
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1. WHOLE PLANT ACCESS
Historically, all parts of the cannabis plant have proven to be effective for a variety of ailments. Even recent studies confirm this. Any medical cannabis program in Ohio must recognize the potential of the whole plant, and the ability to most effectively administer treatment in various ways. Whole plant access, in varying forms, is a must to provide comprehensive treatment options to Ohio’s patients.
2. SAFE, RELIABLE ACCESS
Ohio's patients must have a regulated supply chain with retail dispensaries and a caregiver network to achieve safe and reliable access to cannabis for medical and therapeutic use. For access through the dispensary network, all products on the shelf must go through testing for contaminants, potency, and other factors, and labeled accordingly. The caregiver network should be a more intimate source of access for patients who, for whatever reason (location, illness, access to product not available in dispensaries), choose a more local and familiar source for their cannabis. For those same reasons, home grow should be an option for patients.
3. MEDICAL RECOMMENDATION
Medical providers should be involved in a patient’s treatment with cannabis. Patients should be afforded access, through dispensaries, caregiver network and home grow, upon receiving a recommendation for treatment. Any licensed medical provider who is authorized under Ohio law to write prescriptions should be allowed to counsel patients on the use and course of treatment that is best for the patient’s condition(s).
4. PATIENT PRIVACY AND PROTECTIONS
Patient information must be kept confidential, if kept at all. No patient should be penalized, prosecuted or harassed by any state entity because of cannabis use. After a patient receives a recommendation, cannabis use cannot be per se evidence of being under the influence, nor can it establish probable cause for search and seizure. Parents, guardians, caregivers and medical providers need to be assured they will not be penalized or prosecuted for providing a patient, regardless of age, cannabis based on a recommendation from a licensed medical provider. There should be no state or local government penalties or prosecution for patients who use cannabis in accordance with the state law, when the penalty or prosecution is based on lawful use or supply.
Upon approval of cannabis for medical use and therapeutic benefit, provisions related to self-execution must go into effect without delay. Provisions, such as those governing a patient’s rights to caregivers and home grow, for the purposes of obtaining, growing and using cannabis with a medical recommendation, must not be delayed by the overseeing government agency. Each passing day causes additional pain to patients and their loved ones, who are in desperate need of cannabis. Swift action is required.
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