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Ohio patients get access to medical marijuana while the state program still works tries to get license-holders operating

Posted at 8:53 AM, Dec 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 18:20:45-05

CLEVELAND — After nearly a full year of medical marijuana sales, Ohio reports 74,768 registered patients, with 51,237 having visited a dispensary to purchase some form of medical marijuana.

Since sales started on Jan. 16, 2019, the state reports 6,180 pounds of plant material have been sold, compared to 251,887 units of manufactured product, like tinctures, oils, edibles, or lotions adding up to $51.5 million in product sales.

Back when the first medical marijuana patients first lined up on Jan. 16 for the first day of sales in Ohio, only four dispensaries were approved to open to patients, leaving many patients long road trips away from medical marijuana.

Dispensaries weren't the only part of Ohio's Medical Marijuana Control Program that was struggling to get off the ground.

Only 14 of the state's 29 cultivators were approved to start growing raw marijuana flower, and no processors were allowed to turn that flower into medical marijuana products.

A year later, 20 cultivators are growing and 14 processors are providing a growing selection of medical marijuana products for patients.

"Different forms are going to be better for different conditions. For arthritis, a patient would probably prefer a topical over plant material," said cultivator/processor Grow Ohio Executive Vice President Justin Hunt.

Because of the limited supply when the state program first launched, the price kept many patients away.

Doctor's appointments just to get a recommendation for medical marijuana were a few hundred dollars depending on the physician. Then there is a fee to activate the medical marijuana patient card, on top of the cost of the product itself.

"Even if I qualified through a doctor, the cost would be insurmountable, I wouldn't be able to overcome that," said Scott Atkinson, who said he thinks he would qualify for medical marijuana if he had the money to afford it.

The Department of Commerce says the cost has come down.

When vaping illnesses started popping up across the nation, Medical marijuana patients took notice.

Vaping is the only way that patients are allowed to use raw medical marijuana and Dr. Dvora Nelson says it's the best way to use it because that's how patients feel the effects the fastest.

"You get that relief, you're goal is relief, you reach your goal, you're done," said Dr. Nelson.

So far, Ohio medical marijuana regulators have banned Vitamin E Acetate from state-approved products because of those vaping illnesses. Ohio's processors say they don't use that material anyway.

More on Ohio's Medical Marijuana here.