In as early as the coming days, the first legal marijuana dispensary will open for business in Ohio. Fifty-six sites have received approval for sale and several others are only waiting to receive the product before beginning distribution. However, many Ohioans are concerned that, even with legal certification, they won’t be able to obtain marijuana anytime soon.
An estimated 3.5 million Ohioans have medical conditions that would permit the use of the controversial drug. In addition, more than 350 doctors are now qualified to approve marijuana prescriptions across the state. There a plethora of conditions that qualify for marijuana use ranging from chronic pain and PTSD to AIDS and most forms of cancer. In spite of this, only a fraction will be able to obtain marijuana following the first sales.
In a recent interview Ohio Department of Commerce Senior Policy Advisor Mark Hamlin revealed that, though there will be product available soon, “we know the initial product will be very small.” In addition, he conceded that supply will absolutely not reach initial demand.
The 56 dispensaries that have been approved are not equally distributed throughout the state. Some Ohioans will have to drive as much as three and a half hours just to reach a dispensary.
In addition to scarcity, there are a number of additional issues that will complicate matters for many Ohioans. Most pressing among the issues is that the average Ohioan will have to pay over $600 dollars before even purchasing the drug.
There is a concern by many that, in order to cover these initial costs, taxpayers will be forced to foot the bill for marijuana prescriptions, but this has not yet come to pass.
While there will be a diverse array of means by which qualified patients may use marijuana, smoking marijuana in Ohio will still be illegal. The most common methods of consumption will be oils, edibles, patches, and other conveyance means. Any method of imbibement that specifically appeals to children is still outlawed throughout the state.
It remains to be seen if this will lead to statewide legalization. While many advocacy groups are attempting to push Ohio and other states in that direction, no state that has approved medicinal marijuana has yet made substantive steps to override federal jurisdiction on the matter.
DEA classification still considers Marijuana a Schedule 1 drug with no accepted medical use.
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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio Star. Send tips to [email protected].
Photo “Marijuana Shop” by O’Dea. CC BY-SA 4.0.