Chris Nani, ocbmagonline contributor

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced the patient and caregiver registry was open. Patients with any of the twenty-one qualifying conditions can register with a doctor’s recommendation and a $50 registration fee while caregivers, or aids who can purchase and transport cannabis for patients, can register for $25 through Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy. Home grow is not allowed and only dispensaries are permitted to sale cannabis related products. Once the board approves of a patient or caretaker’s application, the board will send confirmation and patients can either print out a copy of their identification number or save it on their phones to present when entering dispensaries. Each medical marijuana card is valid for one year.

By statute, qualified physicians in Ohio are now allowed to recommend cannabis and register patients which is a significant step in building a base for the program. Up until December 3 ,2018, patients were not able to register and regulators were only able to estimate how many patients were in Ohio. The average physician rate is $200 which is separate from the patient or caretaker registration fee the board requires.

The creation of the registry signifies the Board of Pharmacy believes medical cannabis will be available to patients in early 2019. Before any Cannabis medicine can be  sold to patients across the State, It must first be tested for quality and standards by an approved processing laboratory in Ohio.

To date, no labs are open. A couple of labs have requested inspections and are expected to open by early 2019.

Dispensaries will be allowed to sell up to ninety day increments of cannabis medicines. The following forms of medical marijuana are permitted: oils, tinctures, plant material, edibles and patches. The law prohibits the use of medical marijuana by smoking or combustion, but does allows for vaporization (vaping). The law prohibits any form that is attractive to children.

The Board’s public announcement and involvement of the private sector now puts the entire industry into motion. There will be increasing pressuring from the private sector and public at large to approve both labs and dispensaries so patients can receive their products. In other words, Ohio is too big to fail with multiple interest groups now being affected by the Board’s announcement. 

The trend for each state that initially legalizes cannabis is an initial sharp demand for product that slowly grinds down over time because more cultivators, processors, and dispensaries will become functional. The success of Ohio’s medical marijuana industry will be contingent on how fast Ohio can approve new sites and if the Board decides to implement any additional regulations on the industry. The Board has sought to help patients find certified doctors capable of recommending medical marijuana and they can be found here, through the toll-free contact information for the Ohio Board of Pharmacy which is 833-463-6627, or by emailing them at MMCPRegistry@pharmacy.ohio.gov.

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