Ohio regulators have awarded the state’s first medical marijuana processor certificate. And that means there is now one company in the state, Grow Ohio, that can produce the cannabis products that are standard issue in many other medical-use states. Grow Ohio still has to run a few tests on its THC extractor equipment. But once it does, medical cannabis patients will soon be able to buy edibles, and they’ll have several types to choose from.
Grow Ohio Becomes First Licensed Medical Cannabis Processor in Ohio
Unlike the rapid, accelerated start of medical cannabis programs in places like Oklahoma, Ohio is still looking to gain its footing. Ohio legalized medical cannabis in mid-2016, but dispensaries didn’t open until mid-January 2019. And in between, patients had to wait through multiple setbacks. Businesses faced delays and threatened lawsuits over the licensing process. That bumped the growing timeline and delayed the first crop of medical cannabis. Meanwhile, the state kept missing deadlines to announce dispensary locations and certify doctors.
Since January, patients have had to deal with aggressive law enforcement, confiscations, interference from healthcare provider networks, and limited dispensary access. Soon, at least, they’ll be able to buy more than just flower at the dispensary. Grow Ohio is the first medical marijuana producer to receive a processor permit. But state regulators will soon award permits to another 39 processors.
Licensed processors will be able to convert their own harvested bud into a number of different forms, from oils, capsules and tinctures to lotions and edibles. Grow Ohio says it plans to produce gummies, edibles oils and tinctures first. After that, the company will move on to producing capsules and topical creams, likely in late-April.
Edibles and Oils Will Improve Patients’ Access to Medical Cannabis in Ohio
Like many medical-use states, Ohio prohibits patients from smoking their medical marijuana. But that rule has been a burden for Ohio patients, since flower has been the only form of cannabis available. As a result, patients have had to purchase expensive herb vaporizers to lawfully consume legal medical cannabis. Smoking cannabis can impact respiratory health, but it remains the most cost-effective means of consumption for many patients. Furthermore, inhalation is not the preferred method of consuming THC for several of the state’s 21 qualifying conditions.
States that banned smokable medical cannabis products made edible and topical alternatives available. Ohio, by contrast, is only now allowing companies to produce those alternatives. And that’s crucial for patients. “Different forms are going to be better for different conditions,” said Grow Ohio Executive VP Justin Hunt. “For arthritis, a patient would probably prefer a topical over plant material.”
Grow Ohio boasts a 60,000 square foot indoor grow and processing facility, making it a “Level 1” cultivator under Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Program. The facility, located in Zanesville, Ohio just east of Columbus, employs nearly 80 people. “We hired the right people, we have the right formulas and we are just excited to make a broader market available [for patients] that have registered in Ohio,” Hunt said. The company plans to hire more workers once its processing operations expand.