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Ohio patients will soon be able to legally buy medical marijuana

Ohio is just potentially weeks away from marijuana's legal debut.

Soon, Ohio patients with nearly two dozen medically approved conditions will be able to buy and use medical marijuana. But while the program may be ready to roll, growers across the state are getting ready. 

At Cresco Labs in Yellow Springs, Sean Demme is one of a handful of cultivation agents in the state.

"There is a lot of science that goes into it," Demme said.

Part of his job is pruning pot plants.

"We are essentially making it easier for them to grow how we want,"  Demme said.

The Columbus native was drawn to the industry after studying plants at Ohio University. This at a time when Cresco Labs is preparing for its first Ohio harvest. 

"We are excited," said Dennis Plamondon, the director of cultivation at Cresco Labs.

The company operates marijuana programs in six different states. Their Yellow Springs facility is more than 50,000-square-feet and is one of 13 level one or large growers in Ohio. 

"We are looking to have our product throughout the state by the first of the year," Plamondon said. 

Security is tight at the facility and each plant is tagged and tracked from seed to sale. Right now they have about 400 plants that will soon be harvested ready for a Jan. 1 debut.

Other growers in the state will be ready in December, however, as of this writing, the Ohio Department of Commerce does not have an exact debut date for medical marijuana.

"A specific date hasn't been set yet, but we anticipate it will be soon," said Kerry Francis, of the Department of Commerce, said in an email.

The roadblocks continue as some say medical marijuana may not be widely available until well into 2019, this as the states 26 growers and 14 processors come online. 

It's also not clear yet exactly how much it will cost. 

Right now, there are only 319 doctors allowed to recommend medical pot and 56 dispensaries have provisional licenses to sell it. 

Ohio is also well past its original Sept. 8 release date of medical marijuana because of several delays in the licensing process, lawsuits and construction delays.

Still, at Cresco Labs, Plamondon is confident it will all come together so Ohio patients can get the best medicine available.

On the business side, Cresco Labs plans to hire up to 60 more employees in Yellow Springs. Other large growers may do the same across the state. 

"Here, we are doing, we are making medicine," said Cultivator Sean Demme.

New careers for people like Demme eager to get into what in other states has become a million dollar, if not billion dollar industry.

"I wish I had a better way to say it, but it is just hands down the coolest thing I have ever done," Demme said. 

Right now, 31 states and Washington DC have medical marijuana programs.

In Ohio, to become a patient, you must get a recommendation from a doctor for one of the following ailments:  AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury and ulcerative colitis.


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