State lawsuits could keep some medical marijuana dispensaries closed until 2020 – New Philadelphia Times Reporter


Only 26 of 56 dispensaries with initial approval have received a final certificate of operation from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.

Two in five patients are allowed but have yet to buy medical marijuana as more than half of Ohio’s dispensaries are still not open.

The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, a coalition of state regulatory agencies that oversee and approve licenses, warned last year that it could take all of 2019 and some of 2020 before there would be enough operational marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries to reach every patient in Ohio. Eight months after the first store opened in January, dispensary deserts cover large swaths around Cincinnati, Akron, Marietta, Appalachia to North Central Ohio.

Only 26 of 56 dispensaries with initial approval have received a final certificate of operation from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. By the end of July, 53,082 patients found a doctor to recommend the drug after gathering their medical records and paying the $50 annual registration fee. But only 30,284 had purchased the drug, according to figures reported to the state by licensed dispensaries.

That means 43 percent of card-carrying patients with one of 21 ailments approved for cannabis treatment have yet to find relief as operators await state approval and an industry to build out.

“Obviously the two biggest concerns for our patients is pricing … and access to dispensaries. And those two go hand in hand,” said Alec Chenkus, a patient education manager at Ohio Medical Marijuana Card, which connects patients with dispensaries and staffs doctors who can recommend the drug.

Chenkus said operators are facing everything from local push back from rural town councils to legal state challenges to construction and other issues common to any business startup. Every month they lack a certificate of operation, operators are paying staff and

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