The launch of Ohio’s medical marijuana patient registry has been put on hold because of unexpected delays in bringing Ohio’s newest treatment to market, according to state regulators.
Medical marijuana patients and their caregivers will be required to register with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to receive patient identification cards necessary to buy medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries.
The online registry was expected to go live early this month, but the agency has decided to push back the launch until officials have a clearer idea of when medical marijuana will be widely available, according to Grant Miller, a spokesman for the pharmacy board.
Medical marijuana was expected to be available to Ohio patients by Sept. 8. But none of the 25 cultivators licensed to grow marijuana in Ohio received permission to begin planting in time to meet that deadline.
“What we’re doing now is reassessing what would be best for patients here in Ohio,” Miller said. “We’re trying to find the most suitable date (to launch the patient registry) for patients to be served well.”
Miller said delaying the launch has nothing to do with the pharmacy department’s readiness.
“The registry has been tested, and we’re confident in its functionality and usage,” Miller said. “It basically just has to be turned on. Whenever we have a date, we’ll be ready.”
Miller said launching the registry now could not only jeopardize patient access to medical marijuana but also legal protections for medical marijuana patients who obtain marijuana from other states.
The “affirmative defense” clause in Ohio’s medical marijuana law protects medical marijuana patients from prosecution if they have a written recommendation from a doctor to buy and use marijuana to treat one of 21 qualifying conditions.
But under the law, affirmative defense protection fornon-registered patients without medical marijuana cards expires 180 days after the patient registry is up and running.
“We don’t want that situation where a patient has to use affirmative defense, but affirmative defense has expired, and they don’t have the option to go to a dispensary,” Miller said.
Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Commerce, which regulates the growers, has yet to set a date when it expects medical marijuana to be available to be dispensed in Ohio.
The department is in the process of inspecting grow operations and granting certificates of operation necessary to begin planting.
So far, just one grower – FN Group Holdings in Ravenna, Ohio has passed inspection and been given the green light to start growing