If you have a medically qualifying condition and seriously interested in obtaining medical marijuana, you may or may not have noticed doing so got a bit easier for local residents at the end of February.
Operating as Southern Ohio Green Med in Waverly, Dr. Sean Stiltner, has become, according to state Board of Pharmacy listings, the only area doctor certified to write recommendations for the purchase of medical marijuana.
Stiltner is a doctor of osteopathic medicine, or D.O., which is virtually the same as an M.D. The state requires any physician to have an active Certificate to Recommend (CTR) in order to write recommendations for medical marijuana.
In addition to not having any drug-related criminal offenses or professional reprimands related to prescriptions on his or her record, physicians seeking to help patients obtain marijuana must complete at least two hours of continuing medical education in a course or courses certified by the Ohio state medical association or the Ohio osteopathic association.
According to Ohio law, that training must consist of diagnosing qualifying medical conditions and studying the treatment of qualifying conditions with medical marijuana, including the characteristics of medical marijuana and possible drug interactions.
The law also requires physicians have no ownership or investment interest in, or compensation agreement, with any medical marijuana entity licensed or applicant seeking licensure.
Ohio Green Med is located at 810 Second St., Waverly, though Stiltner lives and practices in Piketon. The Ohio board of pharmacy same lists Stiltner as the only physician certified to give medical marijuana recommendations in Pike or Scioto counties.
Stiltner went out of his way to make clear no Ohio physician can write a “prescription” for marijuana. Instead, certified physicians make recommendations, good for one year, to the state Board of Pharmacy. Approved patients must register online with the Board of Pharmacy as well as contacting a medical marijuana supplier who works with the patient to determine the amount and type of marijuana to be dispensed. Dispensaries must check the Board of Pharmacy database to ensure a patient actually has a valid medical marijuana recommendation.
According to information provided by Trey Swain, a spokesperson for Southern Ohio Green Med, there is a fairly long but specific list of maladies a patient must be suffering from in order to be eligible for a marijuana recommendation under Ohio’s current medical marijuana program.
Those maladies can include: AIDS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Alzheimer’s disease; cancer; chronic traumatic encephalopathy; Crohn’s disease; epilepsy or another seizure disorder; fibromyalgia; glaucoma; hepatitis C; inflammatory bowel disease; multiple sclerosis; pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable; Parkinson’s disease; HIV; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spinal cord disease or injury; Tourette’s syndrome; traumatic brain injury; and, ulcerative colitis.
Swain said Southern Green Med has been seen a minimum of three or four patients a week, though he seemed to expect that number to increase. Stiltner said he has not made many recommendations as of yet because his new venture is still very new. Swain stated Stiltner is not affiliated with any of the major local hospitals, such as the Southern Ohio Medical Center. According to Swain, that can mean significant delays in obtaining the medical records of patients seeking medical marijuana prescriptions. Stiltner, Swain said, naturally must see those records before making any medical marijuana recommendations.
“That’s where we’re running into a lot of issues,” Swain said.
Although, Stiltner is the only local doctor making medical marijuana recommendations, Swain did note there are physicians doing so in Cincinnati and Columbus areas. Statewide, according to the Board of Pharmacy, there were 448 active CRTs as of March 13.
After gaining a recommendation and registering with the state, the next big step for medical marijuana patients is finding a medical marijuana dispensary. According to Swain and also state records, the nearest dispensary is located in Jackson, Ohio, roughly 38 miles or an hour away by car, from Portsmouth. Swain believes a dispensary is set to open on Bridge Street in Chillicothe, but the Daily Times was unable to verify that information.
According to Grant Miller, a spokesperson for the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the state has granted 56 dispensary licenses. Of those, as of this week, a total of nine have obtained a certificate of operation and are open for business. That includes Buckeye Botanicals, LLC, on Acy Street in Jackson.
According to the state website, the Board of Pharmacy is authorized to hand out up to 60 medical marijuana dispensary licenses. However, Miller said the board has capped the number at the current 56.
“At the moment, we will not be issuing any additional (licenses,)” Miller said.
A hold on new medical marijuana dispensary licenses might have been seen as bad news to the operators of the Your CBD Store franchise in Ashland, Ky. Last month, store co-owner Frank Stephens told the Daily Times he and wife Catherine Stephens hope to open one of the national chain stores in Portsmouth. But, as of last year, the sale of CBD products became illegal in Ohio without a medical marijuana retail license.
“It’s a little confusing, kind of a gray area,” Frank Stephens said in February. At the federal level, according to the Stephens, CBD is 100 percent legal. Last month, Frank Stephens announced his intention to obtain a medical marijuana license. Now it appears, no such license is available.
For those who don’t know, CBD is extracted from marijuana or cannabis. “CBD” stands for cannabidiol, which was discovered in 1940, according to a quick Google search. The product is sold in everything from pills, to oils placed under the tongue to topical ointments, gummy candies and, found on the Internet just in time for St. Valentine’s Day last month, heart-shaped chocolates.
CBD often is advertised as being helpful with numerous medical conditions such as different types of chronic pain including joint pain and arthritis, anxiety and numerous other maladies. Frank Stephens said most of his customers buy CBD for some type of pain or another as well as anxiety. CBD is said to have no euphoric effects; that is, you don’t get high off CBD.
Although selling CBD technically has been illegal in the state without a medical marijuana license since at least roughly the middle of 2018, sales of CBD reportedly are continuing throughout Portsmouth in such locations as gas stations, some vape stores and similar shops.