The first batches of legal medical marijuana may be available in Ohio as early as mid-November but the initial supply is expected to sell out almost immediately, according to state officials.
Mark Hamlin of the Ohio Department of Commerce said Thursday that two small-scale cultivators — one in Miegs County and another in Portage County — will have flower product ready for testing and Hocking Technical College expects to be ready for state inspection in early November.
Hamlin told the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee that the first batches will serve hundreds, not thousands, of patients. Likely, Ohio will see what played out in the early days in other states: a handful of dispensaries open, sell out in a matter of days, close again until more product is available, Hamlin said.
“It’ll be a choppy beginning but it’ll ramp up pretty steadily after that, ” he said.
So far, the state issued operations certificates to 10 cultivators, including Chicago-based Cresco Labs in Yellow Springs. Cresco has plants in the soil and will hold a grand opening for media and elected leaders on Monday.
The company operates in six states and offers medical marijuana products, including flower, edibles, vaping pens and cartridges and multiple extracts. Cresco is still waiting word from state regulators on whether it’ll be granted processor and dispensary licenses.
Since June 2016 when Gov. John Kasich signed Ohio’s medical marijuana law, investors, operators and regulators have been working to stand up the new industry.
The law authorized medical marijuana use by patients with 21 conditions, including cancer or chronic pain, in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing. Patients and their caregivers will be allowed to possess up to a 90-day supply. Smoking or home growing it is barred.
The Medical Board of Ohio gave “certificates to recommend” to 293 physicians and expects to add 20 more at its Oct. 10 meeting. The medical board is also getting ready to take petitions to add qualifying conditions and will consider those petitions starting in January.
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy said it will activate its $520,000 online patient registry system before product is ready to hit the dispensary shelves. BOP Director Steve Schierholt said his agency stands ready to inspect dispensaries. The state issued 56 provisional licenses to dispensaries on June 4.
The BOP issued notice in August that cannibidiol, also known as CBD oil, derived from hemp or marijuana cannot legally be sold in Ohio outside the medical marijuana licensing system. That means shops now possessing or selling CBD oil or other marijuana related products are subject to administrative or criminal action.
The Ohio Department of Commerce licensed 13 of 40 processors, which turn plant material into products such as edibles or oils. Hamlin said most of the other applicants failed the security section so the state is asking them to clarify their answers.
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