It has been two long years since Ohio legalized medical marijuana, and state officials are finally expected to announce the locations of up to 56 of the dispensaries that have been awarded licenses. This is out of 376 applicants that are hoping to hear that they were chosen as one of the first to be awarded a license to sell medical marijuana to registered patients. The Board of Pharmacy expects that patient registry will begin as soon as July – and the goal is for the program to finally be fully functional by September 2018.
While many cities have formed bans on medical marijuana dispensaries, there are more who are planning to allow patients the access they have fought and waited so patiently to get. There have been several delays along the way with Ohio’s medical marijuana program – from strict regulations that required testing through universities who were hesitant to work with medical marijuana to lawsuits filed by applicants for one of the few licenses to grow the herb in the state – and all of it has forced patients to wait even longer for a much-needed medication.
Out of the 28 geographic districts within the state, there will likely be two, possibly three, where no licenses are being awarded. The counties of Miami, Shelby, Logan, Paulding, Van Wert and Mercer – all located in western Ohio – will not see any licenses awarded as there were simply no applicants to award a license to in those areas. The third district – not specified – may not see any licenses awarded for a lack of qualified applicants, rather than an overall lack of options.
Dispensaries will be able to sell medical marijuana products including edibles, oils, patches and vaping concentrates – however, cannabis flower that could be smoked is banned, as is the act of smoking medical marijuana. However, even with the restrictions on smoking and home growing, this program is better than no access at all for thousands of patients who have been waiting for a way to legally medicate for far too long. Since patients will be able to possess up to a 90-day supply, it might be wise for those registered in the program to stock up to their limit early, as many states see shortages of cannabis shortly after sales begin. It’s still a work in progress and has a long way to go – but things are slowly coming together for the implementation of medical marijuana access in Ohio.