Everything you ever wanted to know about medical marijuana in Ohio

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The first Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries are set to open Wednesday. 

Whether you are a patient ready to purchase or just a curious citizen, let's take a look back at what we know so far, before the first big sale.

What conditions qualify for medical marijuana?

More than 20 conditions qualify for medical marijuana treatment – from AIDS to ulcerative colitis. And more conditions could be added over time.

For the full list of qualifying conditions, click or tap here.

If you have a condition that qualifies and you're interested in medical marijuana, next you'll have to find a doctor.

Where do I find a doctor?

Before you enter a dispensary, you need a medical marijuana card. To get a card, you need a doctor's recommendation to add you to the state registry. The doctor starts the process, not you. 

Doctors cannot outright prescribe cannabis, as it is a federally illegal substance. And only doctors who have been certified to recommend marijuana can do so.

To find a certified doctor near you, click or tap here.

OK, I found a doctor. What's next for getting this card?

The doctor will certify the patient has a qualifying medical condition, that there is a patient-physician relationship, that the benefits and risks have been discussed and the patient's records in the state's controlled substances database have been reviewed.

Patients can also designate up to two caregivers. These caregivers can buy and administer cannabis. Caregivers must be at least 21 years old and are limited to two patients.

Both patients and caregivers need to bring a valid state driver's license or ID card or U.S. passport with them to the doctor's office.

Next, patients and caregivers will receive an email with a link to confirm the registration and pay an annual registration fee of $50. The fee is $25 for veterans and individuals on federal disability programs.

The card expires one year from the last day of the month of registration.

How many people could have cards?

According to an Enquirer analysis in July 2018, 3.5 million Ohioans have medical conditions that could qualify them for medical marijuana treatment.

That's about ten times as many as the state has estimated will use the program. 

More than 3,500 patients completed the registration process in the first four weeks since the registry opened.

National industry observers estimate Ohio's patient population could reach 200,000.

What do these cards look like anyway?

Medical marijuana cards can be downloaded and printed, or presented on a smartphone at the dispensary.

Cards must be presented along with a state-issued ID.

Only card holders and state-approved caregivers are allowed inside dispensaries.

Can I smoke my medical marijuana?

Nope. The law prohibits smoking marijuana. Medical marijuana can be inhaled through a vaporizer and consumed in the form of oils, tinctures, edibles and patches.

How much can I buy?

Sales are tracked in the state's controlled substances database, and patients are limited to a "90-day supply" at any given time, per state law. Supply is defined by levels of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.

Here are the 90-day equivalents of each type of product:

  • Up to 8 ounces of cannabis at or below 23 percent THC 
  • Up to 5.3 ounces of cannabis between 23 percent and 35 percent THC
  • Patches, lotions, creams, and other topical forms of medical cannabis totaling no more than 26.55 grams of THC.
  • Up to 9.9 grams of THC from cannabis oil, tincture, capsules, and other edible forms.
  • Oil for vaporization containing up to 53.1 grams of THC

How do I get a piece of this business?

This new industry will need workers. From salespeople, to extraction technicians, more than just patients stand to benefit. 

But what about my current business?

If an employer doesn't want to permit medical marijuana to be used at their business, they can do that. For more on what the law says, click or tap here.

I have more questions.

If you have additional questions about Ohio's medical marijuana program, you can call the state's toll-free help line: 1-833-4OH-MMCP (1-833-464-6627).

The Enquirer's Facebook group on medical marijuana in Ohio is also open for discussion among fellow patients and Enquirer reporters who have been following the legislature since the beginning.

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