A clearer picture of why Ohioans are signing up to buy medical marijuana was revealed this week by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
Of the 17,077 Ohioans with a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana, about 64 percent are hoping to alleviate pain.
At the end of last month, 10,910 Ohioans cited chronic and severe or intractable pain as a condition to use medical marijuana. Post-traumatic stress disorder was the second-highest condition (2,622), followed by fibromyalgia (1,973) and cancer (1,082).
Some Ohio patients are registered with multiple conditions, also including spinal cord disease or injury (998), epilepsy or another seizure disorder, Crohn’s disease (445) and multiple sclerosis (387).
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Signed into law in 2016, medical marijuana became legal in September, but due to delays the first sales didn’t take place until Jan. 16.
The ages of patients registered to use medical marijuana are distributed relatively evenly between those aged 30 to 69. People over 70 make up 6 percent of those on the registry. While some minors are registered by caregivers, the number is statistically insignificant, according to the pharmacy board.
As of Feb. 3, spending on medical marijuana in Ohio reached $502,961 on 68.22 pounds.
But not an ounce was sold in the Miami Valley.
Just six dispensaries in the state are open, all hours-long drives from Dayton. The most recent dispensary to open is in East Liverpool, nearly four hours from Dayton but less than an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh, Pa.
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A dispensary might open in the Dayton region as soon as next month. Nine dispensaries have provisional licenses to open in the area, including those in Butler, Clark, Greene, Montgomery and Warren counties.
Pure Ohio Wellness could open one or two dispensaries in early March, said Larry Pegram, the company’s president. The dispensaries at 1875 Needmore Road in Dayton and 1711 West Main St. in Springfield are due to open when the company has an adequate supply of cannabis produced at its own facility in Mad River Twp. in Clark County, Pegram said.
“We are just concerned early on there isn’t that much product. We don’t want to open until we can stock our shelves with our own product,” he said. “We want to make sure we are set up properly.”
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CannAscend Ohio has a provisional license for two Strawberry Fields dispensaries in the area, both months from opening. Work is underway on a refurbishing a building in Dayton’s Oregon Historic District at 333 Wayne Avenue while new framing is going up on 4,100 square-foot building at 300 N. Main St. in Monroe that could be open in mid-May, said owner Jimmy Gould.
“This is something that has a lot of moving parts and you have to get it right the first time,” he said.
MORE: Medical marijuana dispensary under construction, could open in spring
Of the 17,077 patients with a recommendation, 12,873 have paid the $50 fee or one at reduced cost to activate their registry card giving them the ability to purchase the medicine from a dispensary. State records show 1,284 veterans have signed up for the program at a lower fee as well as more than 400 people who sought indigent status. Another 83 patients with a terminal illness are on the registry.
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Whether medical marijuana could be used to treat more than the 21 currently-approved conditions is a question under examination by the State Medical Board of Ohio, which recently closed an annual petition period where Ohioans can try to expand the list.
Of 110 petitions submitted, a review committee allowed just nine to move forward. The nine petitions seek to add to the list six conditions: autism spectrum disorder, chronic anxiety disorder, general anxiety disorder, depression, insomnia and opioid use disorder.
Staff Writer Ed Richter contributed to this report.