Medical marijuana is scheduled to become available in Ohio in December 2018, and qualified patients may possess and use it legally in the state. Meanwhile, the legalization of recreational use of cannabis by persons over the age of 21 may appear on the ballot as early as Q4 of 2019.
Currently, the state is issuing two types of licenses associated with medical marijuana sales:
- As of July 2018, the state has issued 56 medical cannabis dispensary licenses for medical program and CBD program.
- The Ohio Department of Commerce is authorized to issue up to 40 provisional licenses for processors. As of November 2018, 14 provisional licenses have been awarded.
While the cannabis market in Canada is heating up thanks to the nation-wide legalization, the US market is set to present investors with more opportunities.
For instance, as more states move towards legalization, the US market will become ten times the size of the Canadian market with about one-tenth the market cap.
As the 7th most populated state in the US, the legalization process in Ohio will be a great indicator of how things may look for the rest of the country.
To take advantage of the opportunities, investors should have a general understanding of how the medical marijuana program works in Ohio.
How Medical Cannabis Is Dispensed in Ohio
Under Ohio law, only certified physicians can recommend medical marijuana for the treatment of a qualifying medical condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, AIDS or positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more.
The physician will determine if using medical marijuana can be beneficial to a patient’s condition, then provide a recommendation if the patient’s condition qualifies.
Patients will take the recommendations from the “prescribers” to a dispensary, consult with the clerk (often known as a “budsman”), and select from a variety of medical marijuana forms, such as drops, edibles, and leaf material.
Currently, the qualifications required for becoming a “budsman” are quite minimal – dispensary clerks simply need to have a high school education and no serious criminal records.
In July of this year, The state of Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced it had accepted 56 medical dispensary licenses out of 370 applicants. The State took a step further this year in August as it began to announce its processor licenses. The state of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has issued only 12 processing licenses:
- NMG Ohio (Subsidiary of Body & Mind (BAMM.C)
- Purpose Leaf
- Green Investment Partners
- Standard Wellness Company
- Ohio Grown Therapies
- Fire Rock Processing
- Ohio Green Grow
- Greenleaf Therapeutics
- Grow Ohio Pharmaceuticals
- Standard Farms Ohio
- Corsa Verde
Medical Marijuana Use Legislation In Ohio
Because the legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio is a recent development, there may still be some grey areas in the legislation pertaining to usage and possession. Here are some key points to be aware of:
- All medical marijuana patients and their caregivers are required to register with the State Board of Pharmacy. The registration is typically valid for one year.
- The registration process needs to be initiated by the recommending physician. Patients will then receive an email to complete the process and print out a medical marijuana card.
- Medical cannabis can be made available to a minor, per recommendation from a certified physician and with the consent of a parent or guardian.
- Forms of medical marijuana that are currently permitted include oils, tinctures, plant material, edibles, and patches. Individuals may petition to have new forms added.
- Leaf material is only legal if it’s vaped. The law prohibits the use of medical cannabis by smoking or combustion or in any form that’s attractive to children.
- The amount of medical marijuana possessed by a registered patient or caregiver cannot exceed a 90-day supply.
- Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal, and the possession of drug paraphernalia (e.g., a vape pen) is a misdemeanor.
We’ll likely see more changes in the Ohio market as the use of medical marijuana becomes more widespread. In addition, if the legalization of recreational use of cannabis appears on the ballot, we can expect even more growth in the market.