Ohio’s medicinal marijuana law is in full implementation

Bright and early Wednesday morning, Joan Caleodis of Martins Ferry, Ohio, earned the distinction of being the first person in modern times to purchase marijuana legally in Ohio — at least, in the eyes of state officials. The substance remains illegal under federal law.

But Caleodis was not buying the drug for enjoyment. She, among others who waited in line at two new Wintersville, Ohio, businesses, hopes it will help her with a health care condition.

Ohio’s medicinal marijuana law is in full implementation, at least at the five dispensaries approved by the state for opening this week. The fact that two of them are in Wintersville drew customers from long distances. One drove from Cincinnati.

State officials have gone to great lengths to ensure that every link in the medicinal marijuana chain is as voters expected when they approved the system. That is, medicinal marijuana production and sales will be controlled strictly to ensure that only those with prescriptions can buy the drug, and they can be assured its quality will be good.

No new program is perfect right out of the box. That means state officials will have to monitor this one carefully — both to correct relatively insignificant glitches and to guard against abuse. At the first sign of the latter, decisive corrective action will be a must.

Within sight of Wintersville, officials in West Virginia should be watching the Ohio program carefully, too. Medicinal marijuana sales are scheduled to start this summer in the Mountain State, and knowledge to be gained from Ohio’s experience will be useful here, too.