ELYRIA — There won’t be any medical marijuana available in Lorain County — or elsewhere in the state — as of the targeted start date of Sept. 8.
The deadline was set forth in House Bill 523, which states that the program should be fully operational two years after the bill’s approval, Sept. 8, 2016.
State Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, expressed his frustration with the missed deadline.
“At the end of the day, there are Ohioans who are suffering with everything from multiple sclerosis to PTSD from Afghanistan and Iraq to cancer who were waiting for this date to come,” he said. “And now we’re just not giving it to them.”
Three agencies coordinate for the Medical Marijuana Control Program, with each having a specific governance.
The Ohio Department of Commerce oversees the cultivators, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy oversees the dispensaries and the State Medical Board of Ohio oversees the certification of physicians to recommend medical marijuana.
Federal law prohibits the transportation of marijuana over state lines, so all dispensaries rely on products from cultivators in the same state. Department of Commerce Assistant Director of Communications Stephanie Gostomski said four of the 26 cultivators licensed in November have received certification to start growing.
Buckeye Relief, the first cultivator to become certified in late July, recently started growing marijuana. In a news release, the cultivator said it expects to have marijuana ready to distribute by the end of the year. Meanwhile, cultivator companies in Lorain County — Farkas Farms LLC in Grafton and Ascension Biomedical LLC in Oberlin — have not received their certificates of operation.
No officials could be reached from either company.
Gostomski said the department couldn’t reach the deadline in part because the process couldn’t be rushed.
Grant Miller, education and outreach coordinator for the Board of Pharmacy, said none of the 56 dispensaries licensed in the state in June are operational.
NMG Ohio, also known as Nevada Medical Group, is a partner in Body and Mind Inc., a Nevada-based medical marijuana cultivator and producer.
Robert Hasman, president of Body and Mind Inc. and one of the partners in NMG Ohio, said he is waiting to get his building permit from Elyria for the dispensary, which will be at 709 Sugar Lane. It will be called The Clubhouse Dispensary when opened, he said.
The building plans were turned into the city Aug. 9, he said.
Medical Board Director of Communications Tess Pollock said the board has certified 221 physicians since April and has met the state’s expectations. The board certified five physicians for Lorain County.
In addition to certifying physicians, the board also is working on a new responsibility. Beginning next year, the board will begin adding qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. People can submit a petition for new conditions during a specific time. The first petition period is scheduled for November to December this year.
The qualifying medical conditions that are allowed to be treated using medical marijuana are HIV/AIDS; Alzheimer’s disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS; cancer; chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE; Crohn’s disease; epilepsy or another seizure disorder; fibromyalgia; glaucoma; hepatitis C; inflammatory bowel disease; multiple sclerosis; pain that is chronic and severe, or intractable; Parkinson’s disease; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spinal cord disease or injury; Tourette’s syndrome; traumatic brain injury; and ulcerative colitis.
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