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Ohio Commerce Department Still Hazy On Timeline For Medical Marijuana

Legal Marijuana Oregon
Gosia Wozniacka
Associated Press

The director of Ohio's Department of Commerce says work continues to get the state's medical marijuana program fully up and running, but she's not sure when any pot will be available on dispensary shelves.

Jacqueline Williams directs the Department of Commerce, which is charged with overseeing cultivation, processing and testing of medical marijuana. Growing has started for the five cultivators that passed state-mandated inspections, but there's still nothing to process or test.

So when does Williams expect patients to be able to get their medicine?

"We think that in a matter of a few months that we will actually have product on shelves and people will be able to buy those products," Williams said Tuesday on WOSU's All Sides with Ann Fisher.

HB 523, approved by Ohio lawmakers in September 2016, gave the state two years to establish a medical marijuana program. Despite no pot being on dispensary shelves, Williams says they technically met that September 8 deadline by having systems in place.

HB 523 delegated dispensary regulations to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, while the Ohio Medical Board is charged with overseeing enrollment of physicians in the program.

Williams says she does not think having a governor opposed to medical marijuana has slowed their progress.

"No impact at all," Williams says. "The governor signed the bill into law, we're part of the governor's administration, and we've been in regular and routine contact with people on his staff."

Gov. John Kasich begrudgingly signed the medical marijuana bill into law to fend off citizen activists trying to put a wider-reaching law before voters.

"I don't like the whole thing - medical marijuana," Kasich told Cleveland.com last year. "It got passed because somebody was going to have a broader law."