The first medical marijuana plant in Ohio can now start growing.
The Ohio Department of Commerce awarded its first certificate of operation Friday to a medical marijuana grower in Portage County in northeast Ohio.
FN Group Holdings, which will do business as Wellspring Fields, is the first cultivator to receive the go-ahead from the state.
"They are good to go whenever they see fit," said Stephanie Gostomski, spokeswoman for the department of commerce. "That is a business decision on their end."
Gostomski added that this is an important step forward in the program’s long timeline.
"Today is another day where we had a lot of movement and we are going to be continuing to work hard to make sure we have an operational program that has a safe, patient-centered product on the shelf," she said.
Just when that product is on the shelf is still unclear. What is known is that the product, even with the initial cultivator now certified, will not be ready come Sept. 8 — the state’s deadline for when the program was intended to be "fully operational."
With Wellspring Fields getting the OK from the state, the delay beyond September may not be as long as initially expected.
Marijuana plants can be grown in roughly 8 to 12 weeks at the earliest.
There are 25 total provisional licenses for growers in the state, and 11 inspections are scheduled for July and August.
Additionally, the state announced two public colleges — Hocking Technical College and Central State University — will be licensed to test the marijuana. Those schools still must be inspected and certified before they can begin.
Medical marijuana in Ohio will be available to patients with 21 qualifying medical conditions with the recommendation of a state-certified physician.