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  • Writer's pictureRandy Shaffer

Seeing & Smelling The Cannabis You Buy Is Important. So Why Can't Ohioans Do It?

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

4 Marijuana Jars Lined Up With One Nug of Cannabis in Front of Each
Marijuana Samples

Growing Pains and Beta Testing

There are a lot of rules and regulations that were written into Ohio's medical marijuana bill (HB 523) that have long had advocates, patients and industry professionals scratching their heads. Be it Ohio's weird stipulations on the amounts of cannabis you can buy (8 ounces every 90 days) or their limitations on how much THC is in the plants -- the rules seem designed less to benefit patients and more to unnecessarily stifle the industry and curb potential black market sales of Ohio-grown MMJ.

Naturally, with any new law, various kinks will present themselves as the law rolls out. And as each kink is exposed, it is corrected, fixed or eliminated altogether. Many laws, over the years, have unfolded like this. What once was a good idea, slowly evolves with culture, adapting to new ideas and new problems. Think of it, if you will, like a beta test for a piece of software. Bugs present themselves on the fly and are amended by the team building the program.

That is essentially what the Buckeye State is doing -- patients are in a beta test now for Ohio's medical marijuana industry, and a small handful or cultivators and dispensaries are open for business, each testing the potential cracks in the system. Those cracks range from figuring out ways to lessen the cost of cannabis to consumers to figuring how to deal with long lines or appealing the state to change the Ohio Tenth limitation. And like any beta test, as each issue is uncovered, we should see the industry press the state to make some changes to the program.

Presentation is Everything

One of the more egregious flaws in Ohio's bill has hurt patients already, and should be one of the first rules and regulations that needs amending. That issue? Patients cannot see or smell the cannabis they buy.

Yup, you read that right. When a medical marijuana patient enters a dispensary, he or she cannot look, touch or smell the cannabis strain they are planning to buy. Rather, you simply look at bottles of each strain, along with a small card that describes the strain's taste and effectiveness.

Two Bottles of Medical Marijuana from Cultivator Firelands Scientific
What Ohio MMJ bottles look like. Cultivator: Firelands Scientific

After you select your cannabis strains, they are pulled from the back section of the dispensary, placed in a bag and handed to the customer. You can not see or smell your strain (or the cannabis you purchased) while in store. The bottles your cannabis comes in are each sealed, and not allowed to be open while a patient is in the dispensary.

Let me be clear -- this rule was NOT set by cultivators or dispensaries. Rather, this rule is enforced by the state. There's not a single business that benefits from this stipulation, nor does it help patients in any real way.

If that doesn't frustrate you as is, allow me to offer a comparison. Imagine you wanted to buy a car. You drove to the nearest car dealership. You signed in with the clerk at the front desk. You drank some lukewarm coffee while you waited to be taken to the car showroom. After an hour of waiting and chatting with other potential car buyers, you are finally called back to the showroom. But when you get there, you are shown several glass cases with pictures of the cars and descriptions underneath. You can't sit in a vehicle. You can't feel the steering wheel in the palm of your hands. Or tell if the vehicle is comfortable or spacious enough for your needs. You can't test drive it.

All you could do is point to the picture of the car and say "that one." Sounds like the ideal buying experience, right? Right?! Anyone?

A Rule That Needs to Change

While it is understandable that trying (or testing) a cannabis strain in store may not be a viable option for Ohio patients in the foreseeable future, seeing and smelling the cannabis you buy should be allowed by state law.

It's like buying a dozen tomatoes without being able to see, touch or hold the tomatoes before you buy them. As there are hundreds, if not thousands, of strains of cannabis, a medical marijuana patient should be allowed to examine strains up close, even if the cannabis is locked behind glass.

Many dispensaries are working on a short-term solution to this problem, possibly offering small viewing jars or salt shaker-like containers that allow patients to smell the various strains. It's possible that Ohio will still restrict viewing of cannabis in dispensaries, though, only allowing patients to smell the strains. Regardless, this is one mistake in the law that needs rectifying, and quickly.

Rejecting A Bad Tomato

Allowing patients to view, weight their cannabis in store, and potentially reject the cannabis they are about to purchase should also be allowed by the state. Both would greatly benefit the patient while also enhancing the in-store experience.

Marijuana Nug of the Strain Grapefruit Sour D
A beautifully healthy bud from the Grapefruit Sour Dream sativa strain, grown by Buckeye Relief

Though most cannabis will be in perfect, healthy condition (as pictured above), there ere are a handful of potential problems that could arise between cultivation and sale. A patient should have the right to reject any cannabis they deem unworthy.

Without this rule in place, a patient may return home to find their cannabis under the required weight (2.83 grams). Or they may find an accidental blemish, like chemical burn, overly dry product, bud rot or even a missed stem. Every crop of every plant on earth has one or two bad plants, so mistakes are bound to happen. And by not allowing patients to see their cannabis, Ohio has removed a patients' right to turn down potential bad cannabis before buying it.

Again, it's likely we will see cultivators and dispensaries press the state to rectify these issues. But while patients wait for Ohio to amend their medical marijuana law's more peculiar problems, people will continue to be frustrated.

Know that the industry understands and shares this frustration. Not being able to show patients the cannabis they want to buy does a disservice to customers and hurts the industry overall. It causes a distrust between customers and businesses -- a distrust that simply doesn't need to exist because neither patients, advocates, cultivators or dispensaries want a bad experience for their clients.

If you'd like to contact the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, simply click here and let them know you'd like to see, touch and smell the cannabis you buy from dispensaries.


If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.

Click here to learn more about what Ohio Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at 1-866-457-5559 and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.

Also, be sure to check out our latest episode of Ohio Marijuana Pod!


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