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Is Telemedicine for Medical Marijuana in Ohio Going to be Permanent?

Is Telemedicine for Medical Marijuana in Ohio Going to be Permanent?

2020 has been a crazy year for many. The Coronavirus has caused many of our lives to change in numerous ways and people are beginning to wonder if this may be the start of a “new normal”. Similarly to the food industry, the medical marijuana domain has had to adapt to this reality as well and has instituted many new changes including curbside pickup, pickup windows, and virtual doctor visits, known as Telemedicine. This has left many patients asking if these new policies will be permanent or, if not, for how long they will be offered.

If you, or someone you know, is looking for an affordable Ohio medical marijuana recommendation, DocMJ is here to help! Visit us online at DocMJ.com to find answers to common questions, other informative blog posts, and an eligibility survey that will tell you instantly if you pre-qualify for a recommendation!

 

 What is Telemedicine?

Telehealth and telemedicine have become new frontiers of progression in the medical field, and for good reason. Telehealth refers to the general practice of using electronic and tele-communication technology to provide long-distance care and support. Telemedicine is usually used interchangeably with telehealth, but may also refer to the more specific use cases of diagnosing or monitoring patients remotely.

To clear it up a bit, here is an example. A patient has a follow up appointment with their physician regarding a new medication they have started using recently. Instead of driving to the doctor’s office, waiting in the lobby, and eventually going to the exam room, the patient could have a video conference with the physician, bypassing most of the commute and waiting time.

 

Why is Telemedicine Useful?

This convenience factor is one of the driving forces behind the recent rise of telehealth, but there are many reasons why telemedicine can be helpful for people, including increasing access to quality medical care. Many patients with chronic conditions and disabilities struggle to make it to the doctor’s office, often relying on third party ride services to make it there. Telemedicine erases this barrier and allows patients to have easier and safer access to their physician.

Telemedicine may also result in lower costs to the patient in some cases. Those who rely on expensive methods of transportation, finding childcare, or taking time off of work no longer have to do so. A 2017 study also found that, out of 203 Acute Coronary Syndrome Survivors, those who used telehealth services had improved cardiovascular risk profiles and achieved their treatment goals more often than the control group [1]. In today’s world, telemedicine can also help slow the spread of infection, especially important for those with certain underlying conditions [2].

 

Will Telemedicine be Permanent?

At the moment, there are no public plans to make telemedicine visits a way to receive a medical marijuana recommendation permanent. However, there is still no end date that has been given for the program, leading some to believe that it may be adopted and made standard in the future.

The original guidance for telemedicine in regards to medical marijuana in Ohio was given in early March, just before the Ohio Department of Health issued the March 22nd Order to Stay at home. In this order, medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities were identified as essential and therefore did not have to shut down [3]. However, there were some rules put in place to limit the spread, including those regarding curbside pickup and online and telephone orders. Later on, specific telemedicine guidance was given, allowing certified physicians to give and renew medical marijuana recommendations.

The OMMCP (Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program), also hasn’t given a solid end date to the telemedicine program, with one representative stating that it would be active as long as the board deemed it necessary. Other states seem to be considering making the option a permanent one, though, including Florida, with citizens making their appreciation of the program public [4]. Supporters claim the convenience and safety of telehealth make it a compelling alternative to the traditional route of obtaining a medical marijuana recommendation. On the other hand, others believe that an in-person examination should still be required when dealing with a scheduled substance, with others offering a third option; the initial consultation being in-person with the follow-ups and renewals allowing telemedicine as an option.

 

In Conclusion

While there currently aren’t any plans to make telemedicine a permanent option for medical marijuana recommendations in Ohio, the policy certainly opens up a meaningful and potentially very important discussion. For now, if you are interested in booking a telemedicine appointment, you may do so through the DocMJ Ohio homepage or by calling our office at (877) 899.3626. 

 

Resources

[1] https://journals.lww.com/jcrjournal/Abstract/2012/01000/Evaluation_of_a_Telemedicine_Service_for_the.4.aspx

[2] https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2020/0500/p5.html

[3] https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/publicorders/Directors-Stay-Safe-Ohio-Order.pdf?

[4] https://floridapolitics.com/archives/346326-state-considers-permanent-telehealth-medical-marijuana-options