Medical marijuana advocates celebrated a major victory for their cause two years ago when wheels began turning to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio. Since then, state regulators have been hard at work putting rules and regulations into effect, including what forms the medicine will be available in. Progress can be slow when the government is involved though, and medical cannabis has yet to be on shelves.
Our state has taken yet another step in the right direction, however, because marijuana cultivators harvested their very first crops this week. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Agri-Med Ohio LLC and Wellspring Fields have taken in their first haul of mature marijuana plants. This is an important milestone for the industry, but it will still be several months before the finished products will make their ways into the hands of consumers.
Preparing for future industry
A considerable amount of infrastructure has been built for the medical marijuana industry since 2016. Entrepreneurs have established 56 dispensaries and five licensed testing labs across the state. None have opened their doors yet; though that could be changing.
According to state regulators, the testing lab at Hocking Technical college could open as soon as November and dispensaries could follow in suit by December. It is a fact that the recently harvested plants will need several weeks to dry, cure and be processed. Assuming there are no major policy issues or other setbacks, timeframes line up to have Ohio’s first crop be sold in our own dispensaries.
Approaching “fully operational” date
The medical cannabis industry has suffered setbacks over the last two years. Some may remember that the state missed its self-imposed deadline of being fully operational by Sept. 8. A combination of licensing issues, various law suits and construction holds were responsible for the delay.
Todd McCay, owner of Agri-Med Ohio, does not think these setbacks will continue. McCay told The Enquirer that despite getting off to a slow start, state regulators have largely been helpful and easy to work with.
Time will tell how the medical marijuana trade fares in Ohio, but the exuberance of most licensed cultivators, combined with the support of state regulators, seems to point to a bright future. If all goes as expected, Ohio may be able to count itself among the several states with a bustling new trade.