You can’t say “Ohio” without saying “high.”
This week, newly released state data showed that Ohio sold roughly $58.3 million in medical cannabis products during the program’s first year. That number may not look impressive given that nearby Maryland sold nearly twice that amount when it launched its medical cannabis program in 2018, but considering that smoking weed remains illegal in Ohio — even for medical reasons — that $58.3 figure is pretty decent, actually.
Ohio’s medical marijuana bill, signed by Gov. John Kasich in 2016, only permits infused oils, topicals, edibles, vape products, and flower for extraction or vaping. Smokable flower is not permitted, and home grows are banned, too.
Furthermore, persistent weed demonization also contributed to Ohio’s lower-than-expected sales.
“[T]here is definitely a stigma around medical cannabis and as operators we are trying to normalize that so patients understand you can talk to your doctor about that,” Kate Nelson (no relation to Willie), the president of the pot company Greenleaf Apothecaries, told WKYC.
"When the program started people worried that this would be like the western states,” Greenleaf’s vice president, Caroline Henry, said. “That people would be smoking pot on street corners, and that there would be billboards all over advertising marijuana, and children would gain access to it. What we have shown is that this has not happened."
How powerful has prohibitionist propaganda been in Ohio? Out of the state’s 78,000 registered medical marijuana patients, only 57,000 purchased legal cannabis in 2019. While it’s possible that 20,000 patients got their weed from a family member or friend who also had a medical weed card, that number also suggests that some patients are too scared to buy weed at a dispensary.
Given that the sky hasn’t fallen in Ohio, future regulations should permit joints, bongs, and pipes for patients if the state wants to see those rookie sales numbers go up. And seeing as there’s currently a petition to classify being a Bengals or Browns fan as a qualifying medical condition, we can assume that the state is starting to lighten up on weed, too.
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