Green state of Ohio shape on a sign and words Ohio Cannabis Co.

Let’s talk about purchasing medical marijuana from an Ohio dispensary. Get out your calculator, supercomputer, Alexa, Siri and a slide rule. You’ll need them. Why? Because buying cannabis can be complicated.

First, what’s allowed. HB 523, which the Ohio legislature enacted in 2016, created a system wherein qualified patients with a physician’s recommendation can purchase medical marijuana. The law permits nine forms: patches, lotions, creams, ointments, oils, tinctures, capsules, edibles and, of course, plant material, aka flower. Further, the bill established a seemingly generous maximum 90-day supply.

Implementing this quantity, though, became complicated because bureaucrats had to figure out what comprised a 90-day supply. So, they turned to conventional medicine and the “daily dose.” You know, “take two twice a day,” ignoring that most patients consume cannabis “PRN” or as needed. A puff here, a drop there. In addition, the English ounces had to be melded with metric grams.

The law defined four purchase categories, one based on quantity (herbal cannabis) and the other three centered on THC content. Strangely, only herbal plant values are converted from the English system to the decimal system. And stranger still, the purchasable “whole day unit” for this form, read one “daily dose,” equals 0.1 ounces or 2.83 grams. You would think that 2.83 grams purchased over 90-days (2.83 x 90) would equate to 9 ounces or 254.7 grams. You’d be wrong. Here’s where funny numbers begin.

Apparently, the bureaucrats felt that nine ounces over ninety days was too generous for sick patients, so they reduced the maximum 90-day supply to eight ounces for Tier 1 cannabis (23 percent THC or less) and five and three fifths ounces for Tier II (24 percent to 35 percent THC max), keeping the minimum “daily dose” at 0.1 ounces or 2.83 grams. Then, the agency applied fractions. For Tier 1, eight ounces over 90 days (8/90) begets 0.089 daily ounces or 2.52 daily grams.

So, you can purchase, 2.52 grams each day for 90 days? Ah, no. Enter another arcane formula. If you purchased the minimum 2.83 grams each day, your ability to buy the full eight ounces would stop day 80. 

To force the 90-day supply, a reduction factor was applied. The 0.089 daily ounces were divided by the 0.1 ounce “daily dose” to equal 1.25 days (0.1/0.89). So, a one-day dose spans 1.25 days? Wrong again. That value rounds up to the next whole number, magically transforming one day into two. Applying that logic (if you can call it that) to reach 90 days produces a sequence with enough missing numbers that your “days dispensed” stop at 80 with 226.4 total grams, leaving 10 remaining “days dry.” Note: The administrative code allows 226.8 grams.

Similarly, the reduction factor for Tier II pegs at 0.59 (5.3 oz/90 days). Applying it to the 0.1 “daily dose,” returns 1.698, which rounds up to two “days dispensed” as well. However, the sequence for these numbers jump by much larger margins so that 90 “days dispensed” stop at 53. Yes, under this math, you’ll only be able to purchase Tier II cannabis consecutively for 53 of the 90 days allowed, leaving 37 “days dry.” However, this marijuana would be more potent than its Tier I cousin.

Still confused? Other forms of cannabis are not subject to THC tiers, “days dispensed” or “days dry,” although purchases of the various products can be mixed. The “daily dose” for oils, tinctures, capsules and edibles must contain 110 milligrams of THC, with a 90-day supply of 9.9 grams. Patches, lotions, capsules and edibles have 295 milligrams of THC for 26.55 grams total over 90 days. Vape oils comprise 590 grams of THC and a 90-day supply of 53.1 grams THC.

Physician recommendations can permit a maximum of four ninety-day periods during the calendar year, starting on the date you registered with the program. Once a 90-day period expires, a new one begins. Still, there will automatically be five “dry days” annually because years contain 365 days and 90 x 4 = 360.

One other head scratcher is dubbed “use it or lose it.” While patients can, in theory, buy 90-days-worth of medical marijuana, that count begins when a patient makes a purchase. Those 10 days you waited after registration to make your first buy are lost forever. Similarly, purchasing product 10 days straight, but deferring the next buy to 30 days later will cause that tweener time and its corresponding ounces, grams or milligrams to be lost.

Even more confused? You’re not alone. Dispensary owners, processors and patients have complained about the complexity of this system. The simple fix would make 2.52 grams of flower the “daily dose,” enabling 90 consecutive purchases that add up to 226.8 grams without any dry days. The result? The end of “high” math.

Featured dispensary - Ohio Cannabis Company

Are you looking for a relaxing drive through beautiful Ohio countryside? Look no further than the Ohio Cannabis Company in Coshocton. It's a small town about an hour east of Columbus. The village shows the rips and tears of Midwest rust belt neglect and the visceral poverty that emanates from diminished economic prospects. It's this backdrop that makes the Ohio Cannabis Company so special. Cindy Bradford is one exceptional dispensary owner. She seems to know each person who walks through the door - not unusual for a small town - and greets each one as family. She's open and nonjudgmental, even toward those who show the ravages of methamphetamine or opioid addiction. She remembers the personal touches: their kids’ names or the rural routes where they reside, along with the last strain they purchased and their medical condition. Small-town warmth and compassion are on constant display. It’s truly a remarkable place and something to emulate. All dispensary owners should spend a day with Cindy.

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