Columbus, Ohio- The rollout of Ohio’s medicinal cannabis program seems to be going anything but smooth with many worried that safe access to relief could be compromised, at least initially.
As it stands, Ohio sales of medicinal cannabis are scheduled to begin in September. But it seems unlikely that the program will be firing on all cylinders in the early fall.
The licensing process for operators is currently being challenged by lawsuits. Last week, the Ohio Department of Commerce admitted to making a mistake in their assessment of Pharmacann’s application for a dispensary license. The department initially rejected Pharmacann’s request for a license but reversed its decision after reevaluating their application.
Now, the cannabis program appears to be facing another obstacle. Earlier this week, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy canceled a meeting where hundreds of applicants were expecting to find out whether or not their applications for dispensary licenses were approved. The board claimed it canceled the meeting in order to gather more information on applicants announced a plan to hold the meeting next month.
“You’re hoping that when this opens that it will change your life,” Kim Rupp, a patient eagerly waiting on dispensaries to open in Ohio told NBC News in Cincinnati.
Rupp is expecting major delays before she will be able to access her medicine.
“We would be fortunate if we see anything happening by spring,” Rupp said. “I mean, anything where people have access.”
Cleveland.com is reporting that the Ohio Department of Commerce did not thoroughly verify if all applicants were planning on operating at least 500 feet from schools and religious institutions, a key component of the licensing regulations. At least four applicants did not meet these criteria.
In total, there are 376 applications that have been received by the board. A maximum of 57 licenses can be issued under state regulations.
With pending lawsuits, and the Ohio auditor revealing flaws in how officials selected license recipients, some lawmakers have called for an overhaul of the entire medicinal cannabis program. However, state Democrats have argued that there is not enough time to start drafting regulations over from scratch.
Even if some shops are operational by September, they could be few and far between putting patient access at risk.
“I don’t think you’ll see everybody open on the same day,” said Greg May of Ohio Releaf III, a potential dispensary awaiting approval from the board.