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Slow program launch and lack of supply to blame for high medical marijuana prices in Ohio, experts say

Posted at 8:55 AM, Apr 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-04 14:04:35-04

CLEVELAND — Some of the first Ohio patients buying medical marijuana in the first two and half months of the state's program are paying an average of $450 per ounce, according to The Plain Dealer.

That's higher than the cost in neighboring states and data suggests it's even more expensive than what people in Ohio pay for illegal marijuana.

Industry experts tell News 5 the high cost is partially because of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program's slow launch.

Small marijuana plants grow in a cultivation facility.

Two and a half months after the first medical marijuana was sold, 13 of the state's 29 cultivators, which grow medical marijuana, still don't have state-approval to grow marijuana.

Only 13 of the state's 56 dispensaries are open, leaving entire regions of the state without any dispensaries.

More mature marijuana plants are labeled with tape to keep track of what nutrients they've been given.

You can see our map showing where dispensaries are open, and where they soon will open here:

So far, there hasn't been any variety for what to buy. Patients have only been able to buy raw marijuana flower because the first two processors, which turn raw marijuana into products like oils, lotions, and edibles, only just started to make those products. Those products are expected on dispensary shelves in the next few days or weeks.

Some patients tell News 5 they're staying away until more products are available, because those other products would help them more.

One Ohio patient shows the medical marijuana they bought from a dispensary.

The most updated Ohio Marijuana Control Program data from March 7, 2019 shows that 22,276 patients have gotten a doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana. 19,395 patients have activated their medical marijuana patient card, but only 5,465 patients have visited a dispensary and purchased medical marijuana. That's less than 30 percent of the eligible patients.

Other patients tell News 5 they are hesitant to go to dispensaries because many are exclusively cash businesses. Many banking institutions won't get involved with medical marijuana companies because marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

RELATED: New ways to consume medical marijuana will soon be available to Ohio patients