Get Medicinal Marijuana Right

Ohioans with legitimate medical need for marijuana were supposed to be able to get it by last Saturday. They are still waiting.

Under legislation enacted in 2016, state officials were given two years to put a mechanism in place to sell marijuana — or, at least, the active ingredient in it — to people whose doctors believe the drug may help them with maladies ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to cancer. But when the deadline passed Saturday, some pieces of the puzzle were missing.

It is complicated. Doctors must be licensed to prescribe the drug, growers and testing laboratories must be approved and dispensaries must be vetted and cleared to operate.

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 two in Wintersville and one each in East Liverpool and Marietta) have been cleared. A patient registry has been established.

Yet the process is not yet complete. No one seems to know when it will be ready.

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.

Pennsylvania is cited by some. It took that state just 22 months to get its medicinal marijuana program in operation (in February).

Well, good for Keystone State officials. But good for those in Ohio, too.

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.

Devising a system as nearly airtight as possible is important.

We have heard no complaints that state officials were not 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 the system right, not rushing it into operation.


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