The Ohio State University’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (OSU DEPC) at the Moritz College of Law conducts an annual survey to track the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program‘s performance. Four years into the program, the survey touches on subjects such as patient overall satisfaction, prices, availability of products, and other legal matters.
OSU DEPC Survey: The Analysis of the Medical Marijuana Program
Last April, MedicateOH spoke with Jana Hrdinová, Administrative Director for the DEPC, to learn more about how they developed their 2021 and 2022 surveys. Now, the results of the 2022 survey have been published. The survey was conducted from the beginning of April until the end of May 2022. Here is what they found…
Who Participated in the Survey?
The DEPC collected a total of “2,714 respondents, however, 142 of those participants did not respond to any of the survey questions, leaving us with 2,572 respondents”. Of these participants, 52.7% identified as male, and 44.6% identified as female. The majority of participants identified as White/Caucasian (89%), with the second largest group identifying as Black/African American (3.8%). Not all respondents are medical marijuana card holders, only 94% reported being a currently registered patient in the Ohio program.
Why are Ohioans Using Medical Marijuana?
The report shows that the number one reason for using medical marijuana in Ohio is chronic pain, followed by post-traumatic stress disorder and arthritis. Arthritis is not an official qualifying condition but is allowed under the umbrella of chronic pain. The state publishes the numbers for each condition, however, we rarely get a glimpse of what kind of pain people are using medical marijuana for. We get the same glimpse into migraine sufferers.
How Far are Ohioans Traveling to the Nearest Dispensary?
The distance traveled by each respondent is still a hot-button issue for some Ohioans. The majority live within a 15-mile radius of a licensed dispensary (63.2%), however, there are still a significant amount of people who live more than 30 miles away from the nearest dispensary (12%). Even though the majority of people live within a 15-mile radius of a dispensary, it does not automatically grant easy access. Only 25.04% of respondents live within a 0 to 5-mile radius of a dispensary. This means, for an overwhelming majority of Ohioans, transportation such as an automobile or bus is required to get to the destination.
Not all Ohioans who use cannabis for medical reasons are purchasing products from Ohio-licensed dispensaries. Only 71.6% of respondents stated that they purchase all or the majority of their marijuana at a legal Ohio dispensary. The most common reason (45.55%) someone would not purchase from an Ohio dispensary is the price of the products being sold.
According to Hrdinova, “The distance to the nearest dispensary remained virtually unchanged compared to last year’s survey results. This situation should improve as the 71 entities with provisional dispensary licenses awarded in May 2022 come on board over the nine months following the award announcement.”
The addition of more dispensaries may also divert traffic to Michigan, a trip many Ohioans make to purchase cannabis without a medical card or to save money. Of the respondents, 0.28% of people travel one hundred miles or more to the nearest dispensary, and there is no telling how many of those people are crossing state lines.
How Do Ohioans Use Marijuana?
Not all of the respondents reported using marijuana for primarily medical reasons. Some respondents (2.55%) reported using marijuana for recreational purposes, whereas others (3.6%) reported no current use of marijuana at all. Of the people who reported using marijuana, 94.5% said they used marijuana several times a week or on a daily basis.
Why Aren’t More People Participating in the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program?
The OMMCP website states that there are currently 624,506 recommendations and 323,968 registered patients as of this writing. When the Ohio population is roughly 11.75 million and polling shows significant support for not only medical marijuana but adult-use cannabis, it begs the question: why aren’t more people getting their medical marijuana card?
According to the survey, there is a myriad of reasons. The most cited reason for not taking advantage of the medical marijuana program has been the price of marijuana (32%). This holds the top spot for the past three years this survey has been conducted. The second most common reason was the price and difficulty of obtaining a doctor’s recommendation (30%), followed by worries about losing employment (21%), losing firearm privileges (15%), or their other doctors finding out they use marijuana (10%).
How Satisfied are Patients with the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program?
The first time this survey was conducted, almost half of the respondents (48%) reported that they were “extremely dissatisfied” with the program. In 2022, this number has plummeted to 12.8%, a stark contrast to 2019. Now, about 40.8% of respondents report that they are somewhat satisfied with the program.
Satisfaction with the program increased over the years, but still does not reach a threshold for overall satisfaction. Only 15.3% are extremely satisfied, whereas 22.7% of respondents are still somewhat dissatisfied. The main factors influencing dissatisfaction include the prices of Ohio-licensed products (76.94%), the lack of employment protections (55.95%) housing protections (30.77%), no home grow (50.24%) no home delivery (43.92%), and not enough dispensaries (47.43%).
The Changes Patients Want to See in the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program
Since patient satisfaction has been an issue since the beginning of the OMMCP, people have been asked to share what would increase their satisfaction levels. The respondents listed a number of suggestions, but the number one thing the State of Ohio could do to increase satisfaction with the program is to provide legal protections for patients, from employment, housing, and firearm privileges (75.69%).
The respondents would also like to see home grow (62.82%) and home delivery (58.23%), as well as a wider range of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana (48.73%).
What Do These Results Mean?
The results of the OSU DEPC Ohio Medical Marijuana Program analysis show that we still have a long way to go until the majority of Ohio patients are satisfied with our medical marijuana program. Since the DEPC and Jana Hrdinova did field the Department of Commerce and Board of Pharmacy to see if there are any questions they would like answered, it means that these issues are being brought to the attention of policymakers.
It is up to the people of Ohio to remain vocal about their dissatisfaction to drive change. Do not hesitate to reach out to legislators and the Board of Pharmacy to let them know how you feel about what you would like to see for the future of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program.