After nearly a two-and-a-half year wait and a four month delay, Ohio residents are finally able to legally purchase medical marijuana.

Ohio legalized the sale of medical marijuana in June of 2016 with the provision that the program must be operational within two years. However, it has taken nearly three-and-a-half years for legal sales to actually begin.

Although Ohio law doesn’t allow medical patients to smoke cannabis, the law does allow plant material to be sold for vaporization.

With thousands of Ohio residents so far being approved to purchase medical marijuana based on physician recommendations related to more than 20 approved conditions, business has been brisk and Ohio’s first medical marijuana customers were met with applause, cheers and hugs as they exited dispensaries Wednesday.

“I’m ecstatic patients are no longer waiting for relief,” said Joan Caleodis.

Providing quality of life to those in need

Caleodis, 55, was the first patient at CY+ Dispensary in Wintersville, located at the eastern edge of Ohio. Caleodis has spasticity, and cannabis takes away her pain while still allowing her to function. She purchased three containers of cannabis, holding 2.83 grams of dried flowers per container, for $150 on Wednesday.

Alex Griffith, 30, was the second patient at CY+. Griffith drove five hours on Tuesday from his home in Delhi Township in Southwest Ohio to Wintersville so he could be among the first to legally purchase medical marijuana in Ohio. Griffith, a Marine veteran who suffers from PTSD, left the dispensary with a smile on his face and a deep sense of relief.

“Now that I have medical cannabis, I can start living my life and get that quality of life back. I can be Alex again,” said Griffith.

CY+ is not Ohio’s only medical marijuana dispensary. Sales also took place at Ohio Valley Natural Relief in Wintersville, The Botanist in Canton and The Forest in Sandusky.

Because demand was expected to be high, dispensary owners prepared for large crowds by setting up heated tents for waiting customers and served coffee and hot chocolate, even though serving food is prohibited by the state’s strict rules for the industry.

The CY+ dispensary was approved to begin sales to physician-certified patients from across the state from 9:00 AM on Wednesday morning, and the limited amount of available product was in high demand.

“We know a lot of people have been waiting for it and will be driving a long way,” said owner Mike Petrella. “We don’t want somebody driving, who gets there early in the morning, to not buy what they need. It’s first come, first served.”

Now that sales have began and demand has been established, this limited supply may soon change since Chicago-based Cresco Labs operates multiple marijuana-related businesses in the U.S.; including a 50,000-square-foot growing and cultivation facility in Yellow Springs.

High prices

Some customers were disappointed to discover that initial prices were higher than those in other highly-regulated medical marijuana states and to be told that state regulations require plant material to be packaged and sold in 2.83 g amounts (one-tenth of an ounce). They were also disappointed to find that dried flowers, which were priced around $50.00, were the only product initially available.

The Ohio Valley Natural Relief store was the only dispensary that did not limit purchases beyond eight ounces within a 90-day period, the limit set in state law.

Now that legal medical marijuana sales have finally begun in Ohio, will the trend soon spread to other mid-western states?

state marijuana laws