The State of Ohio has awarded a $1 million contract to a New Jersey company to operate a toll-free helpline for medical patients, caregivers, and physicians in line with the state’s new medical marijuana program.
The service contract will run for three years. The hotline intends to give people information about medical marijuana so they can talk about it as an option to their doctors and be in a better position to decide if the drug is for them.
A medical marijuana law passed in Ohio in 2016 required the establishment of a helpline. The drug is set to become available to patients in the state by September. It will be the first of its kind among the 29 states with medical marijuana programs.
The helpline will be operated by Direct Success Inc.'s Ohio subsidiary Extra Step Assurance from a call center in Bellefontaine. The call center launched in February 2017 and has since been operating a national toll-free medical marijuana helpline.
Direct Success CEO Cheryl McDaniel said while the center offers fact-based information about medical marijuana, it is not allowed to give medical or legal advice. The helpline employs pharmacists on call 24/7 to answer questions about drug interactions.
McDaniel said: "Our job is not to convince people if medical cannabis is appropriate for them. Our job is to give them the information so they can talk with their physicians. They have to decide what's right for them.”
The helpline could soon expand to taking questions as well through text messages, social media, an app and online chat but such services would cost an extra $89,500 in three years.