State regulators confirmed Thursday that not all of Ohio’s medical marijuana growers, product manufacturers and dispensaries will be up and running by the Sept. 8 deadline in law.
Industry observers have doubted for months that the program would be “fully operational” before the deadline as the law required. But state officials publicly admitted as much for the first time during Thursday’s meeting of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee.
Department of Commerce Director Jacqueline Williams, whose agency oversees cultivators, processors and testing labs, said not all the licensed businesses, including 57 retail dispensaries statewide, will be open on Sept. 8.
“We will be operational, but we have to temper our view of what this program is going to look like on day one,” Williams said.
A.J. Groeber, executive director of the Ohio State Medical Board, said it was unrealistic to expect the program to be “fully blown” on Sept. 8. Groeber said there “absolutely” will be some dispensaries open with limited product on shelves, but it will have been tested.
Provisional licenses for 24 medical marijuana cultivators were awarded in November, but none have yet begun growing any plants. Licenses for testing labs, processors and dispensaries were supposed to be awarded in “spring.” But a new time line released Thursday shows provisional licenses awarded for processing in June, testing labs in early May and dispensaries in mid-May.
Mark Hamlin, senior policy adviser for the program, said that time line could change.
“We think it’s important to share this level of transparency,” Hamlin said.
Ohio’s medical marijuana law allows people with up to 21 medical conditions to buy and use marijuana if recommended by a doctor. The law does not allow people to smoke marijuana or grow it at home.
The medical board plans to approve the first round of physician certificates to recommend next week. About 50 physicians have applied for the certificate.