The Toll-Free Helpline responds to inquiries from patients, caregivers, and health professionals regarding adverse reactions to medical marijuana, and provides information about available services and additional assistance as needed.
To contact the line, please dial: 1-833-4OH-MMCP (1-833-464-6627)
Ohio has awarded a contract for a toll-free help line for medical marijuana patients, caregivers and doctors as the program continues to roll out in the Buckeye State for its planned September 2018 launch.
The call center will offer factual information to those accessing the program, but will not provide medical or legal advice, says Cheryl McDaniel, CEO of Direct Success Inc., a business support services company whose Ohio subsidiary, Extra Step Assurance, will operate the help line.
“We’re not directing people, but what we’re going to do is give them the tools to make their own decision,” McDaniel says.
Representatives will be available at the new call center beginning in June to provide sources of information that callers can use to learn more about the program and start conversations with their doctors, lawyers and patients.
“In a nutshell, … it’s an open line for anyone to get education on the plant, on the regulations, and any question that they may have if they’ve been recommended it from a doctor or if they haven’t been recommended and they’re just trying to get some information about the program in general,” says Steve De Jacimo, a spokesperson for Extra Step Assurance. “It gives the general public an option to discuss those issues with someone who has all of the background and the regulations based on citations right in front of them and has been trained in the law of the state.”
Direct Success Inc. has been building its database and currently has more than 5,000 data points on which it can offer factual, research-based information, McDaniel says. They have compiled state regulations, relevant articles from medical journals and more to help answer questions and educate about medical marijuana.
Ohio’s regulations require this help line to be in place, and Direct Success Inc. responded to the state-issued request for proposal (RFP), which McDaniel says was one of the most stringent she has ever seen.
“It was very exacting in what you had to show of your capabilities as far as protection of data, the training of people [and] … how fast … you answer a phone when someone calls,” she says.
Although many states have a phone number people can call for help with licensing applications and the issuing of medical marijuana ID cards, McDaniel believes Ohio’s help line is unique.
“To our knowledge, there is no other single source in the United States that is doing this type of education,” she says. And education is one of the things Ohio is struggling with in its medical marijuana program, she adds. “Patients don’t understand it completely, doctors don’t understand it, and I think that’s one of the reasons we’re so passionate—not to talk people into it, but [because] education is out there .”
A shortage of doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients has been an issue in other states like Pennsylvania and Florida, McDaniel says, and adds that this sort of education can help get more physicians involved in Ohio’s program.
The call center will have six employees who will go through extensive training, McDaniel says, which covers how to talk with patients and doctors, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and using the database to access the data points.
“It really is an honor to be allowed to be the one educating people with … factual, researched information,” McDaniel says.