Ohio medical marijuana: Everything you need to know about the state program

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Ohio is continuing its progress toward starting its first medical marijuana program. The process has raised numerous questions about how it will work, who will be involved and what the rules will be. We’ve collected some of the most frequent questions and our most informative coverage of the issue below.

How did Ohio arrive with medical marijuana?

Polling in 2015 showed up to 90 percent of Ohioans were willing to support legalizing medical use of marijuana. But a measure put before voters that November also included provisions for home growing and recreational use of pot, factors that led to a nearly 2-1 defeat at the ballot box.

The multi-million-dollar ResponsibleOhio campaign may have failed, but the issue convinced state lawmakers that they'd rather adopt a highly regulated medical marijuana program- and write the rules- rather than risk it going to the ballot again.

A medical marijuana law, House Bill 523, passed in 2016 and was signed into law by Gov. John Kasich.

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 is barred.

What is medical marijuana if it's not smoked?

Some say medical marijuana is a misnomer, including some local officials and the Federal Drug Administration.

"People keep saying 'medical marijuana' and there's no such thing," said Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director, Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services board of Montgomery County. "It isn't like you can just go into a place and find a strain of marijuana that is medicinal"

Nevertheless, a new industry is sanctioned to provide some Ohioans with marijuana. Proponents say pot offers patients relief from pain, inflammation and nausea.

As marijuana becomes available later this year, there's still widespread public confusion about what kind of products Ohioans with a doctor's recommendation will be allowed to purchase in dispensaries.

"I think a lot of the confusion comes because plant material will be sold. But you're not allowed to take that plant material and use it by combustion," said Thomas Rosenberger, executive director, National Cannabis Industry Association of Ohio.

What can be treated with medical marijuana?

By Ohio law, medical marijuana can be used to treat 21 qualifying conditions:


• Amytrophic lateral sclerosis

• Alzheimer's disease

• Cancer

• Chronic traumatic encephalopathy

• Chrohn's disease

• Epilepsy or another seizure disorder

• Fibromyalgia

• Glaucoma

• Hepatitis C

• Inflammatory bowel disease

• Multiple sclerosis

• Pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable

• Parkinson's disease

• Positive status for HIV

• Sickle cell anemia

• Spinal cord disease or injury

• Tourette's syndrome

• Traumatic brain injury

• Ulcerative colitis

After Nov. 1, the State Medical Board will start accepting petitions to potentially add additional qualifying conditions.

Do I need to register as a patient or caregiver?

Yes. But not yet. All medical marijuana patients and their caregivers will be required to register with the State Board of Pharmacy but no patient identification cards are being issued yet by the State of Ohio's Medical Marijuana Control Program.

The only valid state ID cards will be issued by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy once the state's patient registry becomes available.

A patient or caregiver registration will be valid from the date of issurance and expire one year later, on the last day of the month is was issued. If the patient is diagnosed as terminally ill, the patient's registration expires after six months.

Once registered, the law prohibits the Board of Pharmacy, as well as licensed dispensaries, from making personal identifying information public. Physicians and those employed by dispensaries will be able to verify a patient or caregiver's registration.

If I have one of the conditions, can my physician write me a prescription for marijuana?

Technically, no. Doctors can't "prescribe" medical marijuana because marijuana remains classified federally as a Schedule 1 drug not recognized to have a medical benefit. But they may be able to write you a "recommendation," provided they have the proper certification.

To be certified, a physician must hold an unrestricted MD or DO license and complete at least two hours of continuing medical education to assist in diagnosing qualifying conditions, according to the state medical board.

The State Medical Board of Ohio has now cleared 139 physicians to recommend treatment with marijuana, including doctors in Beavercreek Twp., Centerville, Dayton, Enon, Mason, Middletown, Springboro, Springfield, Washington Twp., West Chester Twp. and Yellow Springs.

So you will have to learn if your doctor is certified.

When will medical marijuana be available for purchase?

That remains a moving target. Though the Sept. 8 deadline won't be met, officials say the product is still expected on shelves by the end of the year.

Growers, who received provisional licenses in November, have been delayed by weather and construction issues, officials said. Fourteen of the 25 cultivators with provisional licenses have scheduled isnspections, including seven this month.

Where will it be sold?

The Dayton-Springfield-Cincinnati region will get 12 medical marijuana stores, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy ruled on Monday. Locally, the stores will open in Montgomery, Greene, Butler, Warren, Clark and Hamilton counties. The Board of Pharmacy announced the winners of up to 56 dispensary licenses out of 376 applications statewide.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy licensed 56 locations that can sell medical marijuana once it becomes legal this year. A total of 376 applications were received. The licenses are distributed across 28 geographic districts. Three districts, including one that covers Miami County, did not have viable or any applications.

Where will it be grown?

One of the Dayton area's largest medical marijuana cultivators, Cresco Labs, sits next to Antioch University Midwest at 904 Dayton Street in Yellow Springs. The facility features a 23,294 -square-foot, state-of-the-art steel greenhouse and a separate 26,445-square-foor processing area also pending approval by the state.

Another of the large growers is Pure Ohio Wellness, LLC at 4020 Dayton-Springfield Road in Mad RIver Twp. outside Springfield. The state picked 12 large-scale growers from 109 applicants. The Level l licenses allow for cultivation up to 25,00 square feet.

Of 76 applicants, the state awarded 12 Level ll licenses, allowing cultivation of up to 3,000 square feet. Area sites for the smaller grow operations include: Ancient Roots, U.S. 68, Wilmington; Hemma LLC, 100 Edison Drive, Monroe; Ohio Clean Leaf LLC, 2046 Valley St., Dayton; and Paragon Development Group, LLC 6212 Executive Blvd., Huber Heights.

What happens after it's harvested?

Processors take raw material from cultivators and turn it into the oils, edibles and other items to be sold at dispensaries. In December, the Ohio Department of Commerce received 104 applications for up to 40 processor licenses. The list of applicants included 19 of 24 companies that were awarded cultivator licenses earlier this year.

Medical marijuana and medical marijuana products will be tested at labs. The state has no limit on the number of testing labs. The lab received seven privately-held lab applications and two from universities, including Central State University, which was awarded a provisional license last week.

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