The first medical cannabis product manufacturing license was just awarded in Ohio, giving patients in the program a reason to celebrate.
Located in East Fultonham in Muskingum County, Grow Ohio is officially the first producer to be awarded a license to manufacture popular cannabis products like edibles, tinctures, transdermal patches, and topical salves, creams, or lotions in the Buckeye State.
“It’ll open up the choices patients have available to them and they can purchase their medical marijuana to treat their condition,” said Executive Vice President of Grow Ohio Justin Hunt. “We hired the right people, we have the right formulas and we are just excited to make a broader market available that have registered in Ohio.”
Grow Ohio manufactures its products in a 60,000 square-foot-building near Zanesville, which is just about 55 miles east of Columbus. In the same facility, a 25,000 square foot space is dedicated to cultivating cannabis plants. Grow Ohio received approval to grow the plants in September of last year.
While the medical cannabis retail program has been active in Ohio since January of this year, the only product available for purchase so far has been dried cannabis flower.
The first day that Ohio medical cannabis patients were granted safe, reliable access to lab-tested medication via dispensaries, they collectively spent more than $75,0000 on nearly nine pounds of flower. Only four retail locations were open for business on the first day that sales began.
Approximately 5,500 patients have purchased medical cannabis from a dispensary since the first day of legal retail sales began on January 16, 2019.
According to Grow Ohio representative Josh Febus, the first products the company plans to produce are syringes filled with edibles cannabis oil, flavored gummies, and tinctures. They expect to introduce cannabis oil capsules and topical creams to the market by May of this year.
One Form Is Not Enough
It is unfortunate, for many patients in Ohio, that the only product available to purchase from a dispensary is dried flower because it remains illegal to smoke or combust plant material in the state. Ohio medical cannabis patients are however permitted to vaporize dried cannabis flower, according to state law, but that is not an ideal method of administration for all patients.
Those who need to ingest their cannabis medication have to take an extra step before they can medicate. A patient would have to use the dried flower material that they buy from the dispensary to make cannabutter or a tincture at home. Since both of these processes take a good chunk of time to make at home, it is a lot of extra work for someone who just wants to medicate quickly for immediate symptom relief. For some patients suffering from severely debilitating conditions, that extra step may be impossible.
Growing at home remains illegal for Ohio medical cannabis patients.
Future Processing Licenses
There are 37 more manufacturing businesses waiting in the state that have already been issued provisional licenses. Once final approval is secured, each will receive a certificate of operation to be able to begin manufacturing cannabis products, according to Kerry Francis of the Ohio Commerce Department. A total of up to 40 processors may be licensed in the state of Ohio.
Ohio Medical Cannabis Program Update
The following are the statistics for the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program as of March 7, 2019:
- 19,395 Patients with verified recommendations have registered for the program.
- 973 Caregivers have registered for the program.
- 413 Physicians are certified to recommend medical cannabis to qualified patients.
- 9 Dispensaries are open for business.
- 1 Processor has received approval to begin manufacturing products.
- 3 Lab testing facilities have received approval to test products.
How to Get Medical Cannabis in Ohio
A qualified patient must follow three main steps to obtain medical cannabis in Ohio.
- Receive a recommendation for medical cannabis from a state-licensed physician.
- Pay the registration fee to get an official patient card.
- Find a dispensary and make a purchase.
Do you need to apply for a medical cannabis patient registration card in the Buckeye State? Click here to learn how to apply for a medical marijuana card in Ohio.
Which Conditions Qualify for Medical Cannabis in Ohio?
Currently, 22 conditions qualify for medical cannabis in Ohio:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Epilepsy or another seizure disorder
Inflammatory bowel disease
Positive status for HIV
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Sickle cell anemia
Spinal cord disease or injury
Traumatic brain injury
On election day, Ohio voters rejected the push for legal recreational marijuana, also known as Issue 3 or the Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The proposal was shot down by a landslide, with an almost 2-to-1 defeat.
The proposal would have legalized the use and sale of recreational cannabis in Ohio, but the ballot language established only ten licenses which would have exclusive commercial rights to the plants’ production and sales. Voting “no” left current laws unchanged — possession and use of marijuana remains illegal in the Buckeye State.
Although Issue 3 was defeated, the cannabis debate is not over in Ohio. Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberg, R-Clarksville and other state lawmakers who have previously been opposed to cannabis policy reform are now reconsidering the medicinal use of cannabis after learning more about the plants’ therapeutic uses and hearing from constituents.
“After going through this process, myself and many of my colleagues realize there’s tremendous support for medical marijuana and something we should have a bigger discussion about. We obviously want to help the parents with children that are ill and the elderly that are suffering,”
said Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, a leader in the House.
This reconsideration by lawmakers comes as no surprise, as the results of the latest Quinnipiac poll revealed that a super majority of Ohio voters believe the use of medical marijuana should be legal. 90 percent of participants from Ohio responded that they supported the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes. In the same poll, voters from Florida and Pennsylvania also reported 90 percent approval for medical marijuana.
Notably, the rejection of Issue 3 by voters does not appear to be a sign that Ohio or any other state is not ready for cannabis policy reform. Rather, it is reported that voters just recognized that Issue 3 did not provide residents with a free market, and may not have been the best model to adopt. Either way, Ohioans are definitely ready for medicinal cannabis.
If the newest legislation introduced to the United States Senate by Sen. Bernie Sanders and the results of the most recent Gallup poll are any inclination, the majority of American people are ready for cannabis policy reform on a much larger scale. Sanders introduced legislation to remove cannabis from federal scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal prohibition entirely.
Today, the legalization of marijuana campaign in Ohio got a big lift from an unlikely supporter. NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson has joined with a group called ResponsibleOhio that are backing the legalization of marijuana in Ohio.
Besides Robertson, ResponsibleOhio is made up of a number of impressive supporters, from a former NFL player to leading fashion designer. . As of Friday, ResponsibleOhio had a total of 11 backers that also include esteemed CEO’s and philanthropists.
ResponsibleOhio is one of two legalization campaigns found in Ohio. However, they are up against some stiff competition. There have been five statewide officeholders who are very vocal about their opposition to this cause.
ResponsibleOhio is confident in their efforts to feature this matter on the ballot this coming fall. If the plan passes, the Ohio Constitution would allow those older than 21 to be able to use marijuana legally for both medical and personal use.
Many people might remember Robertson from his time in the NBA on the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks. He also played at the University of Cincinnati. A lot of this background is why he so strongly advocates for legalized marijuana. He said in a statement that ResponisbleOhio released that he was joining this campaign because of the medical benefits.
“It’s a terrible feeling when you can’t help someone suffering from cancer or another debilitating medical condition — I know from personal experience.”
Basketball fans may remember that Roberson had surgery a couple of years ago after being told that he had prostate cancer.
ResponisbleOhio sees the legalization of marijuana involving a network of about 10 growers each bringing their product to specific testing facilities. There, the pot would go through screenings for safety and potency.
After that, the marijuana would be sent to a medical marijuana dispensary, retail outlet or be put into other consumer products.
The backers of ResponsibleOhio plan to administrate and manage the operation of all facilities.
Full List of Investors:
- Rick KirK
- Oscar Robertson
- Nanette Lepore
- Barbara Gould
- Frostee Rucker
- Sir Alan Mooney
- William J. Foster
- William “Cheney” Pruett
- John Humphrey
- Bobby George
Photo Credit: ResponsibleOhio
An organization called Ohio Rights Group spent last year advocating for legalized medical marijuana in the state of Ohio. However, the group failed to collect the 385,000 signatures needed to put the medical marijuana amendment, Ohio Cannabis Rights Act, on the 2014 ballot. Now, a different group going by the name Responsible Ohio announced a campaign to put a full legalization amendment on the 2015 ballot.
The full legalization movement would allow for only 10 licenses to cultivate the marijuana, and an anonymous source reportedly told Cleveland.com that the group already has the millions in funding needed to collect enough signatures to place the initiative on the ballot next year. The funding is coming from the 10 property owners who would reserve exclusive rights to the cultivation of the plant, thus reserving exclusive rights to much of the legal marijuana profits.
The Responsible Ohio campaign is keeping most information secret at this time, but the group’s spokesperson, Lydia Bolander, did release the statement,
“Marijuana for medical and personal use should be a choice made by adults 21 and older in this state. We are going to end this failed prohibition. Legalizing marijuana for medical and personal use means increased safety because we will regulate, tax and treat marijuana like alcohol. We will smother the black market and use the taxes generated to help local communities provide vital public services.”
The amendment proposed by Responsible Ohio would set-up a Marijuana Control Commission to regulate the legal system. The group is confident that this would be possible because of the precedent set with a 2009 approval of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, which allowed for only four casinos to run in the state.
Few others familiar with marijuana initiatives in the state agree with the hopeful viewpoint of Responsible Ohio. For example, attorney Jon Allison who represents the Drug Free Action Alliance told Dispatch,
“If you put that creators of the Sopranos and Breaking Bad in the same room they couldn’t come up with a plot this far fetched. Perhaps the details will help clarify things but right now it sounds like 10 wannabe drug lords are going to ask Ohio voters to constitutionally protect their cartels and turf.”
The president of the medical marijuana activist organization Ohio Rights Group, John Pardee, also spoke out against this style of an amendment, explaining, “I’m against creating a constitutional monopoly.”
The group has until July of next year to collect enough signatures to place this full legalization initiative on the 2015 ballot.