COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Medical Board added 46 physicians to the list approved to recommend medical marijuana on Wednesday.
The addition brings the total to 185 physicians approved since April.
The database is updated after the medical board approves new physicians at its monthly meeting.
Certified physicians must have completed two hours of continuing education credits about cannabis and the qualifying medical conditions. When recommending cannabis, doctors must certify they have a bona fide relationship with the patient, the patient has a qualifying condition, have discussed the pros and cons of marijuana use and have reviewed the patient’s history in the state’s controlled substances database.
Ohio is several months away from opening dispensaries where patients can buy marijuana and marijuana products. The patient registry, which patients will sign up for through doctors’ offices, is not yet in place.
But several certified doctors are meeting with patients and writing letters that can be used as an affirmative defense against prosecution for marijuana use and possession, provided the patient is following Ohio’s medical marijuana law.
Ohio’s medical marijuana law allows people with one of 21 medical conditions to buy and use marijuana if recommended by a physician. State regulators are in the process of licensing marijuana growers, product manufacturers and dispensaries, and they expect some products to be available to patients this fall.
State regulators expect Ohio’s program to start small. The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, one of three agencies overseeing the program, estimated between .04 and .44 percent of Ohio’s population — or between 4,600 and 51,000 patients — will sign up for the program in the first two years.
Industry analysts have put Ohio’s patient population at about 200,000 patients because the list of qualifying conditions includes chronic pain.