After delays, Ohioans will soon get medical marijuana sales
After delays and pushed-back deadlines, Ohio residents may finally be able to purchase marijuana for medicinal purposes within the next few days.
The program was supposed to be fully operational four months ago, but delays in several areas halted progress. This included localities moving too slowly on zoning, delays in construction, delays in the rollout of regulatory requirements and delays in licensing. The state also faced lawsuits and confusion about the transition period.
Ohio’s rollout of its medical marijuana program was worse than many other states because of its slow start, Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Watchdog.org. However, he said the delays coming to an end will be good for patients.
“This will benefit patients because there will finally be licensed facilities patients can visit to get medical cannabis that has been tested and meets state standards,” Lindsey said. “Patients shouldn’t have to wonder if they are following the law or getting a safe product. Retail access finally offers that clarity.”
When the program goes into effect, doctors will be able to prescribe medical marijuana for 21 pre-approved conditions. These prescriptions can be filled at state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. Some of the conditions include AIDS, Alzheimer’s, cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, multiple sclerosis and chronic or severe pain.
Medical marijuana can be provided in the form of oils, tinctures, plant material, edibles and patches. The law will allow patients to vape marijuana, but will prohibit patients from smoking marijuana. All patients and caregivers will be required to be registered with the state Board of Pharmacy.
Patients can formally petition the state to have other medical conditions or forms added to Medical Marijuana Control Program. This would be done through medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov.
Doctors may prescribe medical marijuana to minors, but only with the consent of parents. However, the law will still prohibit any medical marijuana that is in a form that is attractive to children.
It will not be legal for someone to grow marijuana for consumption. Additionally, medical marijuana cards issued by other states will not be recognized by Ohio; however, the state may, in the future, enter into reciprocity agreements with other states so that those cards may be recognized.
Kerry Francis, chief of communications at the Ohio Department of Commerce, told Watchdog.org that the launch will be similar to other states.
“Just as in the states that launched prior to Ohio, the industry has indicated to the state that the supply, variety and statewide availability of medical marijuana products to be limited in the early days of the program – initially, the only product available to purchase will be in plant form, and not all announced dispensary locations may yet be open for business,” Francis said. “The indication from the industry is that the quantity and variety of product will increase quickly in the first few months of the program.”
The Marijuana Policy Project applauded Ohio for moving forward with the legalization.
“While there have been unfortunate delays and questions, we applaud the many lawmakers, agency personnel, activists and business community members who worked hard to make this one of the best programs in the country,” Lindsey said.
He added that the state should also legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older.
“The state could begin reducing the underground market that currently serves adults, making it safer for everyone in Ohio,” he said. “It could also draw tax revenue, provide new opportunity for employment and economic benefit, and the state could stop punishing adults for choosing a drug that is less safer than alcohol.”