CINCINNATI — In the rapidly evolving world of legal marijuana, 2018 is poised to be one for the history books in Ohio.
In less than 10 months, some of Ohio’s sickest residents should be able to use state-issued identification cards to shop at a local dispensary for a medical marijuana product grown and made right here in the Buckeye state.
Already, hundreds of new regulations have been crafted and dozens of entrepreneurs have invested millions for their chance to break into the budding industry.
But hundreds more decisions are still pending — including who will win the right to process, dispense and recommend the newly legal drug. Meanwhile, a new effort is afoot to make the drug legal for recreational use — a reality in eight other states.
“It’s hard to predict how this will all play out” said Chris Walsh, of Marijuana Business Daily, a news and analytics firm. “From what we’ve seen, Ohio is following through with its plan, but there’s always the possibility for delays.”
With a Sept. 8 deadline to have the Medical Marijuana Control Program fully up and running, state regulators and countless business owners face a make-or-break time crunch. Businesses that aren’t up in running in time could lose their right to operate in Ohio.
As the New Year kicks off, here’s a look at the big hurdles ahead as Ohio enters the sticky world of legal marijuana.
Patient registry, physician certifications
At some point this year, eligible patients are supposed to be able register online for a medical marijuana card, which will come with a $50 fee. Patients who are approved for medical marijuana must have one of 26 qualifying conditions and have doctor’s recommendation. A final date hasn’t been set for when the registry will be open.
Ohio is expected to have one of the largest medical marijuana markets in