Coronavirus and Cannabis: Ohio Regulatory Updates

By Kelsey Middleton

Mar 26, 2020

This VS Insight is dedicated to updates regarding the coronavirus and cannabis in Ohio. For updates on other states or coronavirus-related issues, see our main post on the subject, "Coronavirus and Cannabis: Monitoring the Impact."

Cannabis regulations are in flux across the U.S. as officials at every level of government work to contain the new coronavirus (COVID-19). Vicente Sederberg is closely monitoring the situation, and we are communicating with regulators to understand how these local, state and federal responses may affect cannabis business operators, medical patients, and other cannabis consumers. We are committed to doing everything we can to keep our clients and the public updated as we learn of new developments, but please note this is an extremely fluid situation and there is a lot we do not know. This VS Insights post is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal or tax advice. We strongly encourage you to contact an attorney if you are seeking advice regarding any specific legal or tax issue.


Latest Updates

March 26, 2020

  • The Ohio Board of Pharmacy released updated requirements for maintaining clean and sanitary conditions for medical marijuana patients during the COVID-19 outbreak. These requirements are derived from the Stay at Home Order issued by the Ohio Department of Health and Rule 3796:6-3-02.

    • Medical marijuana dispensaries are required to establish the following practices:

      • Implement social distancing policies for dispensary waiting rooms ensuring that capacity is restricted to no more than 10 persons.

      • Implement infection control procedures including, regularly cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces (e.g., ATMs, keypads, waiting areas).

      • Provide regular breaks for employees to engaged in thorough hand washing.

      • Designate six-foot distances by signage, tape, or other means to help employees and customers maintain proper distance.

      • Provide hand sanitizer and sanitizing products.

      • Maintain separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers.

      • Facilitate online and remote access by posting online whether a facility is open, how best to reach the facility, and remote ordering options including any new Board-authorized services established to reduce the spread of the virus.

    • Business and employers are also required to:Allow as many persons as possible to work from home by implemented teleworking policies.

      • Actively encourage ill employees to stay home until they are symptom free.

      • Ensure that sick leave policies are current, flexible, and non-punitive to encourage sick employees to stay home.

      • Separate employees who appear to have COVID-19 symptoms and send them home immediately, restricting access to the business until they have recovered.

      • Reinforce positive messaging such as stay home when sick, use cough and sneeze etiquette, and practice thorough hand washing.

      • Perform enhance environmental cleaning of frequently touched spaces and items.

      • Be prepared to adjust business practices if necessary to maintain critical operations.

March 23, 2020

  • The Board issued guidance regarding the temporary expansion of caregiver registration and procedures for registering a caregiver. The guidance document also includes the Board’s new caregiver registration application. The temporary expansion encompasses the following:

    • A patient may have up to three caregivers.

    • A caregiver may have up to three patients.

    • Caregivers may now be added by Board staff.

March 22, 2020

  • The Director of the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, issued an order, effective March 23, 2020, through April 6, 2020, directing all persons to stay at home unless engaged in essential work or activity.

    • Per the order, licensed marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers are deemed essential public health operations. Therefore, licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and license medical marijuana cultivation centers may continue operations. Individuals are permitted to leave their homes to work for or obtain services at licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers.

  • Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) staff are working remotely until further notice. MMCP staff will be conducting business as usual; however, responses may take a longer than normal.

March 20, 2020

  • To facilitate patient access to medical marijuana and in response to Bureau of Motor Vehicles closures throughout the state, the Board released updated photo identification requirements for patients and caregivers.

    • The updated requirements authorize the use of expired identification to renew patient/ caregiver registrations and recommendations so long as the following requirements are met:

      • The ID must be one of the authorized forms.

      • The ID expired on or after February 1, 2020.

      • The patient/ caregiver’s information remains legible, including a recognizable photo of the patient/ caregiver.

    • The updated requirements also authorize the use of birth certificates as acceptable identification for minor patients to register as medical marijuana patients. Dispensaries are required to accept birth certificates as a form of ID for minors to enter a dispensary and purchase medical marijuana.

  • To protect patients, caregivers, and dispensary employees during COVID-19, the Board will now allow patients and caregivers to place orders for medical marijuana by telephone. To accept telephone orders, medical marijuana dispensaries must implement procedures established by the Board.

March 18, 2020

  • The Board released requirements for maintaining clean and sanitary conditions for medical marijuana patients. Licensed Ohio dispensaries are required to implements and maintain the following safeguards to ensure clean and sanitary conditions during the COVID-19 outbreak:

    • Implement social distancing policies for waiting rooms, restricting capacity to no more than ten persons, including staff.

    • Establish a process for vulnerable populations (e.g., elders, the immunocompromised, and other at-risk persons) to be served first.

    • Implement infection control procedures that include the following:
      • Making sure staff maintain a 3-foot distance from asymptomatic patients and at least a 6-foot distance from those coughing or demonstrating other symptoms.

      • Posting signage or using other methods to ensure patients are maintained at a safe distance from workspaces.

      • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting with an EPA-approved disinfectant all commonly touched surfaces such as ATMs, keypads, and waiting areas.

        • The Ohio Department of Health has issued guidance for persons finding cleaning and disinfecting products in short supply.

      • Making alcohol-based hand sanitizer available to patients and caregivers if available.

      • Providing regular breaks for staff to thoroughly wash hands.

    • Monitor staff for signs of sickness. The Board advises taking staff temperatures once per shift and sending staff with a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher and/ or symptoms of respiratory infection like coughing and shortness of breath home.

  • The State Medical Board of Ohio issued telemedicine guidance to enable Ohio physicians to continue to provide care throughout the pandemic. Effective March 9, 2020, providers may use telemedicine to make medical marijuana recommendations and renewals.

This article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal or tax advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. This material may be considered attorney advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.