Limited quantities of marijuana-infused gummy candy hit Ohio medical marijuana dispensary shelves late last week.

The initial price for Ohio’s first legal edible is steep: $80 for 11 gummies. Each candy contains 10 mg of THC. THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is a marijuana compound that generates a “high.”

Similar strength gummies sell for about $25 for a pack of 10 in Illinois, which has a highly-regulated medical marijuana program similar to Ohio’s.

Prices are expected to remain high as the program ramps up. Fewer than half of the state-licensed 29 growers have marijuana flower or other products on retail dispensary store shelves. 

Only two of the state’s 39-licensed marijuana product makers are operating. Grow Ohio Pharmaceuticals’ square-shaped gummies were first sold in dispensaries last week. Standard Wellness plans to sell gummies later this month, first in its Sandusky dispensary and then across the state.

Ohio Cannabis Company in Coshocton sold out of the gummies within days of receiving its first shipment. Dispensary employee Missy Bethel said customers have been asking for alternatives to dried bud, which can be vaped but not smoked in Ohio.

“We have a lot of patients with a lung condition,” Bethel said. “We have older patients who have never smoked before so they’re not interested in vaping.”

Ohio’s medical marijuana law, passed in May 2016, prohibits medical marijuana products that are “attractive to children.” So you won’t see any gummy bears, worms or fruit shapes for sale.

Gummies have to be imprinted with the letters THC. Edible products also contain a warning label that their effects may be delayed.

Smoking or vaping cannabis delivers quick effects because it enters the bloodstream through the lungs. Eating cannabis takes longer and can have different effects because it is absorbed as it is digested. 

Ohio has sold $5.8 million of cannabis from the first day of sales Jan. 16 through May 5, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce. Until early April, only dried marijuana flower, or bud, was available. Tinctures, a concentrate applied under the tongue, and oil for vaping have since been introduced to the market.

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Processors are planning to add patches, topical cream and other products. Patients with one of 21 qualifying medical conditions can buy and use marijuana if recommended by a state-certified physician.

Through April, 31,075 patients have registered for Ohio’s program. About 49 percent have used their cards at one of the 15 dispensaries that have opened. Patients have told The Enquirer the high prices, product availability and distance to the nearest dispensary have kept them from shopping at dispensaries.

More: Anxiety, autism recommended for Ohio medical marijuana condition list

More: Where are Ohio’s medical marijuana dispensaries? Here’s a map.

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Ohio’s seed to sale process for producing medical marijuana. Michael Nyerges, Cincinnati Enquirer

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