Medical marijuana process needs more time
Ohioans whose doctors agree they have a genuine medical need for marijuana were supposed to be able to get it by last Saturday. They weren’t.
State officials were given two years, after legislation enacted in 2016, to put a mechanism in place to sell marijuana — or, at least, the active ingredient in it — to people for whom the drug may help with conditions ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to cancer. But when the deadline passed Saturday, some pieces of the puzzle were missing.
Doctors must be licensed to prescribe the drug, growers and testing laboratories must be approved and dispensaries must be vetted and cleared to operate. And much of that work has been accomplished — about 250 doctors have been certified. Twenty-six marijuana growers and 40 firms intended to process the plant into legal forms have been licensed provisionally. Fifty-six dispensaries, including one here in Marietta, have been cleared. A patient registry has been established.
But now, no one seems to know quite when the process will be complete.
Meanwhile, some Ohioans who believe medicinal marijuana would help them or loved ones are growing impatient. They want to know why the Buckeye State cannot move as quickly as other areas.
For example, it took Pennsylvania just 22 months to get its medicinal marijuana program in operation (in February).
Such a comparison is unfair. Sale of marijuana for health care is a controversial matter. Gov. John Kasich had serious reservations about signing the measure into law, though he finally did. And many law enforcement officials worry the process will get out of control, allowing some customers who want marijuana solely for recreational purposes to get it.
It is essential to develop a system that closes as many of those gaps as possible.
State officials appear to be working hard to get the program in place in Ohio. Good for them for being cautious as they proceed. Emphasis needs to be placed on getting it right, rather than getting it right now.