The Ohio Department of Commerce announced that the anticipated rollout of the state’s medical marijuana program will be delayed, to the dismay of patients who are waiting to legally avail of the drug.
The state had initially set a September 8 deadline to launch its medical cannabis program. However, according to the Department of Commerce, which is the agency tasked to oversee the program, there is no way they can meet the target date.
The department explained that delays in licensing the expected 25 cannabis growers in the state have pushed back the medical cannabis program’s launch. Before these cultivators can begin growing the plants, they needed to get their facilities inspected by state officials and be granted a certificate of operation.
According to the department, they have already awarded licenses for cultivators to grow cannabis plants. To meet the September deadline, it was expected that these licensed cannabis producers would start growing the plants in May. However, none of them are growing the plants by this time and only one is close to starting the cultivation process.
So far, Pure Ohio Wellness is the only cannabis company that has had its facility inspected, and it did not pass. It still needs to make the changes prescribed by the inspectors before it can get its certificate of operation.
No certain date yet
Ohio legalized medical cannabis in June 2016. They had said that residents of the state can obtain medical cannabis from outside of Ohio if they had a doctor’s prescription. Meanwhile, the state is still working toward establishing its own network of cannabis growers and dispensaries.
The Department of Commerce did not specify a new start date for the program. They just said it would take weeks more after the supposed September deadline before patients could avail of medical cannabis. And even then, it is very likely that the drug would be available in limited quantities.
So, what now???
According to Department of Commerce’s spokesperson, Stephanie Gostomski, they have two level 2 companies that have already expressed an interest in undergoing inspections this month and they have seven more for July. Five of these seven are large cultivators.
This means that the state has nine inspections lined up in the coming weeks and if these go well, the companies will receive their certificates of operation. They can all start growing cannabis and people will start to see products on dispensary shelves.
Lawmakers are not happy
According to Democratic Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, to say that he was angry is “an understatement.” Yuko has been pushing for medical cannabis for years.
“To hold a child… to hold them in your arms. To have them have that seizure in your arms. To see the Mom and Dad living in fear, day in and day out, knowing that next seizure could cause brain damage or death. We have to do better. We should have done better. But we didn’t do better. And now, I can only hope and pray that someone wakes up and says ok, listen, what can we do to expedite this as quickly as possible and make this right.” — Democratic Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko
Yuko said that he is furious because patients in Ohio who need medical cannabis had been counting on getting it in September. Veterans who are suffering from PTSD, children who are experiencing seizures, and adults who are battling cancer will have to wait longer, and they may not have the time to do so, he added.
Yuko pointed out that every day that goes on for people who are sick and who need medical cannabis is one day too many.