Ohio's medical marijuana patient e-cards double in second week

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The number of Ohioans allowed to buy medical marijuana doubled in the second week that the program started accepting registrations. And there's renewed hope they might yet be able to purchase product this year.

So far, 2,170 patients and caregivers have paid the fees and completed activation for an online registry card. That's out of 3,460 recommendations submitted by certified physicians to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, the state Board of Pharmacy reported Monday. That's up from 1,062 e-cards out of 1,948 registrations last week.

On Friday, the pharmacy board OK'd the first dispensary to open. CY+, located in Wintersville in Jefferson County near the eastern state line, will be operated by Chicago-based Cresco Labs, a seed-to-sale cannabis company licensed in six states.

However, a Cresco spokesman said it won't open its doors until there is product available – and that's dependent on the first testing labs to open. Hocking College in Nelsonville and North Coast Testing Laboratories LLC in Streetsboro, one of three private licensees, have requested final inspections this week by the Department of Commerce. A decision comes later.

The first small-scale indoor cultivators to open have reached harvest, and five have a license that allows them to sell dried flowers to dispensaries without going through a processor, but that still requires the lab.

Ohio also has not yet negotiated reciprocal honoring of marijuana registrations with neighboring states such as Michigan.

State officials had estimated sales would start in Ohio early next year. The state's 2016 law called for the program to start this September.

"We do know that even when that first batch goes to the first dispensary, it’s critically important for everyone to understand that it will be available in limited quantities and variety," Tessie Pollock, Medical Board of Ohio spokeswoman, said when the registry first opened.

"Those first dispensaries may very well sell out of product in the first day," she said. "It’s important to note that this program will be in the ‘ramping up’ phase for a while."

The Medical Board of Ohio has certified 354 physicians to recommend marijuana as of last week.

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