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Medical marijuana now available in Ohio

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    An employee at a medical marijuana cultivator works on topping a marijuana plant in Eastlake in September. AP FILE



While Ohio is set to allow the first legal medical marijuana dispensaries to open today, local physicians are timidly stepping into this area of medicine.

Pain management specialist Mohan Kareti, is one of three doctors currently listed as state-certified to recommend the use of medical marijuana for patients. His practice is located at 805 E. Washington St., Medina.

Kareti said Tuesday that while he has the appropriate certification, he has yet to actually recommend the use of marijuana or marijuana products to any of his patients.

“I think it has its place, I don’t know what it is,” Kareti said. “There are some diseases that marijuana might help with.

“Right now, I am waiting to see a little bit more before I think of prescribing that,” Kareti added.

The other local physicians include Suresh Mendpara, with a listed practice address of 5133 Ridge Road, Suite 5, Wadsworth, and Karen Pilarski, with a listed practice address of 247 E. Smith Road, Medina.

Each is listed on the state Medical Board of Ohio’s website as having an active certificate to recommend medical marijuana license.

There are more than 370 Ohio medical professionals on the state’s roster, which was last updated Jan. 9.

Ohio has granted certificates of operation to four dispensaries to open their doors Wednesday including locations in Wintersville, Canton, Wickliffe and Sandusky, according to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Board.

Owned and operated by Cresco Labs of Chicago, the CY+ Dispensary in Wintersville, which is near Steubenville, was the first to receive approval from the state to operate a marijuana dispensary.

“Receiving the first approval to operate is a major milestone in the transformation of the cannabis program in Ohio,” Charles Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs said in a statement Friday.

According to the statement, CY+ Dispensary will offer a selection of cannabis products for individuals that have been physician-approved to have any of about

20 approved medical conditions for medical marijuana treatment.

Qualifying medical conditions include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease;
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS;
  • cancer;
  • chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • epilepsy or another seizure disorder;
  • fibromyalgia;
  • glaucoma;
  • hepatitis C;
  • inflammatory bowel disease;
  • multiple sclerosis;
  • pain that is chronic and severe or intractable;
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • sickle cell anemia;
  • spinal cord disease or injury;
  • Tourette’s syndrome;
  • traumatic brain injury;
  • ulcerative colitis.

The state medical board is currently reviewing an additional six medical conditions for treatment with cannabis in Ohio, including autism and chronic anxiety.

Kareti said he has yet to see a scientific journal that absolutely pinpoints a “specific situation where it really, really helps.”

“All I have is somebody telling me, well we tried it on one patient here, we tried it on another patient there, and it helped,” he said.

The Cleveland Clinic in a statement released Thursday outlined the reasons why the health institution and its physicians will not recommend cannabis to patients.

“On Sept. 8, Ohio law began permitting state-licensed dispensaries to sell marijuana to treat a specific set of health conditions, with a doctor’s recommendation. We at Cleveland Clinic, however, will not be recommending “medical marijuana” for our patients,” wrote Paul Terpeluk, medical director of the Clinic’s Employee Health Services.”

At Cleveland Clinic, we believe there are better alternatives.”

“In the world of healthcare, a medication is a drug that has endured extensive clinical trials, public hearings and approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA,” Terpeluk wrote.

“Medications are tested for safety and efficacy. They are closely regulated, from production to distribution. They are accurately dosed, down to the milligram. Medical marijuana is none of those things.”

Medical marijuana has been in the works in Ohio since 2016, giving state officials time to figure out the particulars of how it will be regulated, grown and sold. It also gave local officials time to decide if medical marijuana would have a place in their respective communities.

As such, even with certified local physicians Medina County residents will probably have to go out of county to purchased medical marijuana projects. Brunswick and Medina City Council officially banned cultivation, processing and dispensaries from operating within their cities last May, while Wadsworth followed suit in October.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner
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