The Ohio Board of Pharmacy said that it has delayed the announcement of medical marijuana dispensary licenses for the state. The board had expected to make the information available on Wednesday and name as many as 56 licensees in 28 geographic areas. Hopeful applicants had filed 356 applications to open cannabis dispensaries. State regulators now expect to award provisional licenses to successful applicants at its monthly meeting scheduled for June 4-6.
Cameron McNamee, a spokesman for the board, said in an email that it is taking longer than expected to process the applications.
“Postponing the announcement of the awards is due to some unexpected delays in information required to validate an applicant meets the minimum license qualifications,” he wrote. “It does not have to do with the applicant’s scores, as those have been finalized since March. The Board fully expects that all outstanding information will be obtained or confirmed in order to move ahead with the issuance of provisional licenses in June.”
McNamee also said that the board is still in the process of verifying information such as distances of proposed dispensaries from sensitive-use sites such as schools and churches.
“We wanted to make sure everyone meets those minimum qualifications,” he told local media.
Lawmakers Approved Medical Marijuana Program in 2016
In November of 2015, Ohio voters rejected a ballot proposal that would have legalized cannabis for medical and adult use. But only one year later, support for medical marijuana in the state had swelled. So, lawmakers passed House Bill 523 and Gov. John Kasich signed it into law in June 2016. Since that time, regulators have been creating the rules to govern the program.
Under the law, patients with one or more of 21 serious medical conditions will be allowed to use medical cannabis. The approved conditions include ALS, cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, chronic pain, glaucoma, and PTSD. The list also includes degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and digestive conditions such as ulcerative colitis and IBS.
The law allows patients to vaporize cannabis flower or oils and use edibles, topicals, and tinctures. However, they will not be able to smoke cannabis. Patients and their caregivers are able to possess up to a 90-day supply of their medicine. The law also bans home cultivation of medical marijuana.
Patients must receive a recommendation from a doctor to participate in the program. The Board of Pharmacy plans for patient registration to begin in July. Regulators expect the program to be up and running by September of this year.
Problems with Some Licenses for Cultivators
The Board of Pharmacy’s delay may be an attempt to avoid problems similar to those experienced with the issuance of licenses to cannabis cultivators.
Earlier this year, the Ohio Department of Commerce approved applications to grow cannabis for the state program. But in February, an investigation revealed that some of the approved cultivation sites did not comply with the law. Four of the proposed properties were closer to a sensitive-use site than allowed.
A spokeswoman for the Board of Commerce, Stephanie Gostomski, said the board approved applications based on data provided. All provisional licenses would be verified before they became permanent.
“All applicants that received a provisional license passed this section of the application, based on the information and certification of compliance with the 500-foot rule,” she said. “To receive a certificate of operation, each provisional licensee will have to comply with all statutory and rule requirements, which the department will verify.”
All provisional license holders have since divided their properties to create a site in compliance with regulations.