Medical marijuana has technically been legal for Ohio residents living in the Buckeye State for a little over two years now. Up until this point, though, there have been numerous delays and false starts. This has translated to consumers in a most frustrating way -- there's no product available.
In turn, it has been a long, long, LONG waiting game for patients (myself included) hoping to get their hands on the medicine they need. And we at Ohio Marijuana Card understand this frustration. We have patients suffering from a battery of mental, physical and full body ailments, from severe pain to Crohn's disease, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, cancer and even Alzheimer's.
Traditional prescription medications have proven harmful or ineffective treatment methods for these patients. As a result, these folks are suffering, in some cases quite severely, and they are desperately seeking help, sooner rather than later.
But is the waiting game over now that the Ohio medical marijuana patient registry has opened? Will patients finally get to see cannabis sold in their state just in time for the Christmas season? We'll explore!
Why did Ohio have delays with their medical marijuana program?
The short answer is lawsuits. The long form answer is a little more complex, and a lot of it narrows down to a deadline that just wasn't doable in the time frame allotted.
There has been a lot of speculation about when the medical marijuana industry would get rolling. Much of this was due to the original September 8, 2018 deadline established by the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. This deadline was meant to be a way of tracking the industry as it arrived in Ohio.
Alas, due to many unforeseen legal and logistical issues, there were several delays in bringing the industry to the Buckeye State. You can read even more about the numerous hurdles that cannabis companies faced along the way by clicking here. In lesser words, the usual bureaucratic woes slowed the process to a crawl for nearly a full year, slowing the overall progress of MMJ in Ohio by about 3-6 months.
Other than a handful of doctor's offices (like ours) that opened ahead of the September 8, 2018 deadline, most businesses were not even remotely ready by that date, with some cultivators having not even broken ground on their facilities. Slowly and surely, though, the industry has worked day and night, and managed to overcome all the obstacles. As such, things are running much smoother in December 2018 than they were in September 2018.
The cultivation industry is currently hard at work growing and harvesting medical cannabis. And once each of these companies reaches the final stages of this process they will be granted an official license and allowed to continue growing, maintaining and cultivating reefer.
When to expect the first Ohio marijuana dispensaries to open
Because the cultivation phase of the cannabis industry appears to be running smoothly, dispensaries should begin the process of opening very soon. But just how soon is soon?
Some companies are ambitiously aiming to open their doors by late December, just in time for Christmas. Does this mean they will make that deadline? Well...
The biggest hurdle holding most dispensaries back has been the medical marijuana patient registry. It is required that patients must have their official Ohio medical marijuana card in hand in order to enter dispensaries. Since patients could not get this card, there would be no one to enter stores once dispensaries opened.
But now that the patient registry has been turned on, patients who have been evaluated and received their medical marijuana recommendation letter (from a doctor certified by the state to recommend cannabis) will finally be able to register with the state and receive their official Ohio medical marijuana card.
So now that there's customers, the business can proceed to open. According to Ohio's medical marijuana law, the registry was originally set to activate 60 days before dispensaries open. This could mean that the state will intentionally delay the process of opening dispensaries by a further 60 days. That would mean that dispensaries would open their doors in early February 2019.
That said, with numerous cultivators harvesting cannabis as early as mid November, and some dispensaries itching to open very soon, it is likely there will be a push to get at least one dispensary open before the end of the year.
Will Ohio medical marijuana be available in limited quantities at launch?
Patients should expect above average prices and limited supply during the first few weeks of implementation. This is due to supply and demand difficulties. Not every cultivator is ready to roll, and some are behind early bird cultivators by as many as 3-6 months. As a result, product will be limited and priced accordingly.
Product pricing and availability should only be an issue during the initial launch months as patient demand will no doubt be very high, and products will be limited. Dispensaries may even choose to treat patients with severe needs first. This again will only be during the launch months as other cultivators catch up and cannabis becomes more readily available.
Also, at launch, expect only dry flower (buds) to be sold as other cannabis products, like oils, tinctures, edibles, creams, patches and tonics take time to process and manufacturer, and not all marijuana processing facilities are ready to go. As they catch up with cultivators, expect a more diverse lineup of cannabis products.
When will the Ohio medical marijuana industry finally be running smoothly?
If you buy a car, expect there to be problems with it down the road, or tweaks you'd like to make as soon as you get it. The same can be said for any company. Delays, legal challenges and other problems might arise that slow or stop the cannabis industry. But as far as launch is concerned, the industry should begin to operate efficiently in early 2019.
By summer 2019, things should be running quite smoothly, and most (if not all) dispensaries should be on the ground running. As always, we will keep our patients, fans and readers updated about any potential problems the industry might face in the coming months. Also be on the lookout for news about when the first dispensaries will open.
Some historic days are coming to Ohio, so stay tuned!
If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana.
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.