NORTHEAST OHIO (WOIO) - In 37 days, legislation legalizing medical marijuana goes into effect in Ohio, and many patients are trying to get approval ahead of time so they're ready when dispensaries finally open.
The passage of House Bill 523 added Ohio to the list of 30 states, and the District of Columbia, with laws legalizing marijuana in some way.
Ohio Marijuana Card is one business writing recommendations for patients to the State Board of Pharmacy, who issues the cards.
Randy Schaffer founded Ohio Marijuana Card after he started using marijuana when the pain from his gout and arthritis got so bad, he could barely walk.
"I could not move my wrists. I could not move my ankles or my toes," he said.
A friend suggested he try marijuana for his symptoms. Schaffer said it was the first time he ever tried it and right away he was a believer. "I tried it and I went from being completely, almost paralyzed, to being able to do jumping jacks in one night."
He now works for Ohio Marijuana Card, but he is among many patients who have come to get recommended for medical marijuana.
The Maple Heights office opened about a month ago and they have offices across the state in Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, Akron, Beavercreek and others opening soon in Dayton, Dublin and Westlake.
President, Connor Shore said they see all kinds of people, and there really is no typical patient. "We've had people that come in their late 90s, we've had minors come in. With the consent of a parent or guardian they can be treated."
Patients must bring in medical records showing they have one of 21 qualifying conditions. Doctor Alan Wine is one of the doctors who looks over patient's records and examines them. If he deems them in need, he sends a recommendation to the State Board of Pharmacy for a card.
"Most of our patients tell us the same story. They've tried opioids, muscle relaxers, all sorts of anti-psychotic medications, but the side effects are such that they make their life intolerable," said Wine.
Before working at Ohio Marijuana Card, Wine was a hematologist and oncologist.
Wine recommends what form of marijuana patients should use -- oil, topicals, edibles, or vaping.
Smoking is not legal.
He and Shore say they believe they're helping their patients fill a medical gap.
"It's absolutely helping people when you look at the opioid epidemic this is saving lives it's a more natural medicine it's very low potential for abuse," said Shore.