Ohio residents waiting for medical cannabis have had to witness one of the slowest program rollouts that any state has ever seen. However, Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project told sources earlier this week that patients will be able to get legal cannabis within the next few days.
“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,” said Lindsey. “Patients shouldn’t have to wonder if they are following the law or getting a safe product. Retail access finally offers that clarity.”
Ohioans were expecting to have access to legal medical cannabis in the fall of 2018 but due to a lot of red tape and other delays, the program was put on a lengthy pause. Some of the causes for delay included issues with construction, municipalities moving slowly in deciding on zoning, in addition to several delays in creating the regulations and getting businesses their license.
However, despite the long wait, representatives from the only state-licensed dispensary and testing labs said that patients will not have to wait much longer, and that they could have access to cannabis by January 15. There are 21 conditions that have been pre-approved that doctors can prescribe cannabis for to patients. Prescriptions can be filled at cannabis facilities
When legal cannabis finally does rollout later this month, some of the regulations are as follows:
- Doctors can prescribe to minors but only with the consent of a guardian
- An individual cannot grow marijuana for consumption
- Medical cannabis cards from outside of Ohio will not be recognized within the state
“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,” said Kerry Francis, chief of communications at the Ohio Department of Commerce. “The indication from the industry is that the quantity and variety of product will increase quickly in the first few months of the program.”
Though patients and advocate alike are glad to see the program finally rolling forward, Lindsey says that the next step for the state would be to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use.
“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.”
The Patient and Caregiver Registry for marijuana went live four weeks ago and since then, Ohio doctors have recommended 4,964 to use cannabis for their medical needs or to give marijuana to someone in their care. According to data released Monday, 3,575 people have activated their medical marijuana e-cards.