COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTRF) - Many patients waiting for access to medical marijuana for a litany of medical reasons expected to be able to purchase the medicine on September 8th.
They were not able to because of delays in getting the product to the shelves.
Some people have blamed the State, specifically the Department of Commerce for causing the delays for several reasons many of which were covered by a recent State Auditor’s report.
But the department says the delays were, ultimately, not the fault of the state and at least one grower is backing them up on this.
That grower is Cresco Labs, a company operating in the medical marijuana industry in six states for the past three years.
According to a spokesman from Cresco Labs, the delays were caused by weather and issues related to building new facilities for growing, processing, and distributing the medicine.
The Department of Commerce agrees with this assessment and downplays accusations the state could have finalized the licensing process sooner allowing other companies to get started on the building process before the weather.
The department also says vendor delays in order equipment; delays in closing on real estate; delays with needing power companies to upgrade existing transformers or run new lines; and delays at the local level with getting plans approved by local authorities all contributed to the delay in the program starting on time.
Even though the department of commerce and Cresco labs are on the same page, patients like Kathrine Cottrill are sick of waiting when other states appear to have done the same thing faster.
Cottrill points to Pennsylvania as an example. They passed their first bill to create the program in July 2016 right after Ohio passed its legislation.
However, unlike Ohio their rules were in place, licensing was given, and the program was up and running earlier this year.
Cresco Labs says it is unfair to compare Ohio to Pennsylvania and claims companies there weren’t faced with the same issues companies here had to deal with.
It just so happens that Cresco Labs also received its final approval to begin cultivating the plants in Ohio today.
As such, it became the fourth large operation to begin growing bringing the total number of growers to 7 facilities in the state.
It is going to take Cresco Labs roughly 90-100 days to grow the plants to maturity, then they can be processed and tested before being sent to distribution centers.
Back in Newark where Cottrill lives, the three industry-related facilities are nowhere near ready to accept that product. At last check, none of them have even broken ground yet on the buildings they need to construct.
Cotrill and other upset patients also point out the recommendations they will need to have before a distribution center will sell them the medicine are only good for 90 days.
With plants taking at least that long to grow to maturity, patients who went out and purchased theirs thinking there would be product available when the State said the program would go live may have lost the money they paid to get that benefit.