Thursday, May 24, 2018
The title of this post is the headline of this local article providing a partial update on the roll-out of medical marijuana in the Buckeye State. I like the headline because it has a nice alliteration, "lackadaisical launch," which I am now inclined to steal when talking about what is afoot in Ohio. Here are just some of the reasons reasons why this label is so fitting:
Kim Rupp is anxiously awaiting the day she can buy and consume medical marijuana in Ohio. "You're hoping that when this opens that it will change your life," Rupp said, referring to dispensaries where legal cannabis will be sold in the Buckeye State. Rupp said she's battled a debilitating bone disease for years, consuming countless pharmaceutical drugs along the way.
A big proponent of medical marijuana, Rupp is pessimistic that Ohio's new pot program will be fully up and running by Sept. 8th, as required by law. "We would be fortunate if we see anything happening by spring," Rupp said. "I mean, anything where people have access." Instead, Rupp thinks only a few dispensaries will be open by fall.
Ohio's Board of Pharmacy delayed Wednesday's scheduled announcement of who will get to operate the stores. That means nobody's started building what have to be fortified sites, because buying cannabis is typically an all-cash transaction. "I don't think you'll see everybody open on the same day," said Greg May. May is with Ohio Releaf III, a company that hopes to build a dispensary in Forest Park.
Missing only a few stores will likely have a major impact. The pharmacy board can award up to 60 dispensary licenses statewide, with just three dispensaries for all of Hamilton County. "My advice is get your recommendation now or as soon as possible," said Rob Ryan, executive director of the Ohio Patient Network. Even though he anticipates a slow rollout, Ryan urges anyone with a qualifying medical condition to talk to their doctor about marijuana now.
UPDATE: The new AP article, headlined "Medical marijuana ramp-up in Ohio sees progress, questions," provides more details on Ohio's struggles to get is medical marijuana regime up and running. Here is how it gets started:
The medical marijuana program Ohio's set to launch later this year has been beset by questions.
Will growing operations be able to ramp up in time to meet initial demand? Will legal and administrative challenges tangle the rollout in red tape? Will enough doctors obtain certificates to serve needy patients?
Still, much progress has been made since Ohio became the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana in 2016 and set Sept. 8 of this year as the launch date.
Mark Hamlin, the Ohio Department of Commerce's policy adviser on medical marijuana, acknowledges the process has been "bumpy." But he said he hopes the public recognizes this is not just a short-term project.
ANOTHER UPDATE: This new Columbus Dispatch article provides yet another account of these stories under the headline "Ohio in danger of missing Sept. 8 deadline for medical marijuana," which includes these excerpts:
The program must be “fully operational” by early September, according to the state’s Medical Marijuana Control Program website. But state officials say that means only that a minimal amount of some form of medical marijuana must be available by then. “I don’t think there is a lot of confidence in that Sept. 8 date. If there is not a seed in the ground right now, you can speed up the permit process and build 24 hours a day, but the only thing you can’t speed up is Mother Nature,” said Bob Bridges, the patient advocate on the state’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee.
For cultivators, the only way to speed up the process is to plant a cutting from an existing cannabis plant rather than starting with a seed. That short-cuts the germination process, but it still takes eight to 12 weeks to mature.
Bridges is one of 14 members of the committee, tasked with advising the three state agencies involved with the program, appointed with approval by Gov. John Kasich. “Patients are very, very concerned product won’t be ready,” Bridges said. “Overwhelming, the concern has been: ‘Is medicine going to be available Sept. 8?’”