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Rural, Suburban Counties Could Be Locked Out Of Ohio’s Medical Cannabis Program

The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy is expecting as many as two hundred applications for sixty available cannabis dispensary licenses for their medical cannabis program. As the state prepares to issue these licenses to applicants, a draft map has been issued that illustrates how these sixty dispensaries will be distributed throughout the state. The intention behind this distribution is to ensure that no medical cannabis patient in Ohio is forced to drive very far to obtain their medicine.

The information that has come to light recently about this disbursement of dispensaries has industry experts and patients concerned that the current figures won’t properly serve the people of Ohio.

Cuyahoga and Franklin counties are poised to receive five dispensaries each of the sixty dispensaries that will be granted licensing to operate. Rural and suburban counties, on the other hand, have as few as zero dispensaries being issued to their areas.

cannabis dispensaries - NE Ohio

The six largest counties in the state have anywhere from three to five dispensaries each. The remaining 88 are grouped into districts of three counties, with only one dispensary among them. There are fourteen assigned districts that contain three or even four counties, with only one dispensary to serve them all. “Patients are not going to have real easy access,” said Chris Lindsey of the Marijuana Policy Project.

Lindsey also points out that cities, townships and other jurisdictions placing bans on medical cannabis cultivation and sales could provide even greater hurdles between patients and their medicine. Some of these bans may be temporary, but there are areas of the state weighing the perceived pros and cons of a permanent ban.

Ohio’s medical cannabis program is expected to roll out in late summer of 2018, and the board is open to potentially issuing more licenses after September to meet unmet patient demand.

The board is accepting commentary from the public at this email address: MMCPRules@Pharmacy.Ohio.gov.

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