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
Cannabis topicals have numerous medicinal uses for patients seeking natural forms of treatment. When applied directly to the skin, the revolutionary formula has been linked to reduced pain, inflammation and skin infections. The benefits of cannabis topicals may also extend to easing the spread of aggressive injuries and wounds.
Earlier this year, a group of scientists published a report in the January issue of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management that shows just how effective cannabis topicals can be in addressing destructive, disease-related wounds. Researchers highlighted the account of a 44-year-old patient based in Canada, who at the time was suffering from oral cancer.
Read on to understand how the man used cannabis topicals to heal his body in the fight against one of the world’s most devastating diseases.
According to the report, the patient was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2013. He underwent surgery to remove tumors that emerged in his right cheek. Unfortunately, his efforts were unsuccessful, as the cancer returned – despite rounds of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Three years later, the man was treated at a palliative-care clinic in Toronto, under the care of Dr. Vincent Maida, an associate professor in the Division of Palliative Care at the University of Toronto.
The patient was prescribed vaporized cannabis to ease pain associated with the condition. This also helped reduce his reliance on prescription opioids. Eventually, he had to stop treatment due to a hole that formed on his cheek. Maida then issued the use of cannabis oil as an alternative to vaporized cannabis. While applying the topical at a rate of four times per day for an entire month, the patient noticed that the wound stopped growing.
Moreover, it also decreased in size, by roughly five percent in the following month. Pain relief that came with the treatment lasted for two hours after applying the cannabis oil. In a major twist of events, the patient died from cancer-related complications arising out of severe deterioration of his condition.
History and Applications
Cannabis topicals have been around for centuries. The use of the plant to treat wounds, aggressive infections and heavy burns dates back to 2,700 BC. During this period, Shen-Nung, a prominent Chinese emperor, applied cannabis (along with other herbs) to exploratory treatments, which earned him the title “Father of Chinese Medicine”.
In other parts of the world, people also used cannabis concentrates in a similar manner. In 1751, Thomas Short explored the application of specially prepared cannabis in his book Medicina Britannica. The author used the formula to address wounds, ulcers, burns and insect bites.
It is important to point out that cannabis topicals are incredibly useful for patients who want to limit the psychoactive effects of the herb during treatment. Since CB1 and CB2 receptors are present in human skin, hair and sweat glands, individuals can directly apply the medicinal rub on the target area without cerebral stimulation. This makes the treatment suitable for the elderly, pediatric patients and people who are sensitive to the effects of cannabis.
When it comes to pushing the human body beyond its physical and mental limits, Avery Collins might be a wizard masquerading as an early-twenties endurance athlete. In the last three years alone, Avery has competed in over thirty (yes, thirty) ultramarathons and finished in first place or near the top in nearly every single one.
And here’s the kicker – he is one of the first professional athletes to do it while landing big-time sponsorships from the cannabis industry, including the popular edibles brand Incredibles, Mary’s Medicinals and Roll-uh-Bowl. CEO and Founder of Incredibles, Rick Scarpello, describes the relationship with Collins as a “match made in heaven.”
“Cannabis is a great tool for training and working out. Avery is tops in his sport and a pleasure to work with,”
For those of you unfamiliar with ultramarathons, imagine running the typical marathon distance of 26.2 miles and then instead of collecting your sticker and going home after reaching the finish line, you decide to keep on running – for miles, hours or even days. Some events stretch out for over 200 miles and even up to 1,000.
For me, it’s hard to even picture driving those distances, let alone using nothing but your own two legs (and a lot of energy bars, I would assume) and sheer will power.
But for 23-year-old professional ultramarathoner Avery Collins, 200 miles in a single race was enough to separate him from the pack by over 5 hours to win the mind-blowing Colorado 200 last year; a race so difficult and so physically and mentally demanding that at one point he actually hallucinated celebrities waving to him from imaginary billboards littering the singletrack mountainside trail.
Avery admits that although he never uses cannabis during a competition, marijuana has become an essential part of his workouts and training for those grueling multi-day races and post-competition recoveries:
“Definitely edibles a couple times per day. Usually some in the morning, some before the run, (and) at night A LOT because I find that going to bed high, I wake up very much refreshed.”
For edibles, Avery’s go-to products are the 500mg “Mile Higher” mint bar and “Mikiba” nutrition bar from Incredibles. Like all athletes that know their limits, he recommends starting off with a low dose (around 5mg of THC) and gradually upping the amount after giving it some time to kick in while on a run and letting your body adjust before ingesting more.
Collins holding a Mary’s Medicinals topical cream, infused with cannabinoids like CBC, CBDA and THCA, intended to relieve muscle soreness, pain and inflammation.
Over the years, cannabis has become a regular part of Avery’s athletic routine for many reasons. First, he claims that taking edibles before a run is fantastic for longer training days when the mind needs something to focus on in order to alleviate the boredom and help keep the legs moving forward. On top of that, it’s also a highly effective pain killer. After training nearly every day with 30+ mile runs in order to prepare for ultramarathons like last year’s Fat Dog 120 and most recently the Ultra Fiord in Patagonia, Chile (which he attempted while being deathly sick), Avery uses a combination of edibles and topical ointments to help alleviate the pain and fatigue his legs and body undoubtedly endure.
Before speaking with Avery, I had always assumed that most athletes would simply dismiss smoking marijuana because of health or lung performance reasons. I was pleasantly surprised by the answer I received when I asked Avery whether he prefers to smoke or take edibles before a run:
“I enjoy smoking prior to running just because it’s more of a head high and the body is still very much able, whereas the edibles – I get a much stronger body high. It’s a little bit harder to run with edibles.”
Despite Avery’s resounding success in the world of ultramarathon running, he is looking forward to a future full of blazing new paths in other endurance sports. “Honestly, I’m looking forward to doing other endurance sports. I’ve always told this to my parents, but I always tell them that I’m not a runner, I’m an athlete. I’ll never be just a runner and I don’t want that one page to define my life. I plan on in the future really branching out. Maybe something like cross-country or split-board racing. I don’t even know if it exists yet, but if it does, I’m totally in it next winter.”
For a driven young endurance athlete like Avery, the sky is truly the limit, and he’s teaching others to follow their dreams and embrace the positive medicinal uses of cannabis in ultra-endurance sports. Referring to CBD topicals that you rub on sore muscles, Avery tells me that “you don’t have to get high to enjoy the benefits of cannabis in athletics. But at the same time, it is pretty awesome to go for a run when you’re high.”
I suppose there’s only one way to find out.
Photos courtesy of Avery Collins.