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Adult cannabis plants grow inside a temperature controlled room at Canndescent's greenhouse in Desert Hot Springs, Calif.

On Jan. 16, the first four medical marijuana dispensaries in Ohio opened their doors, offering medicinal cannabis for qualifying medical conditions to Ohioans over the age of 21.

Before you toke up, here’s what you should know:

Who can use medical marijuana?

Any person over the age of 21 can use medical marijuana for qualifying medical conditions, including AIDS, cancer, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and other conditions, according to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP). Therefore, it is still illegal for anyone who doesn't have a qualifying condition to purchase, possess or use marijuana.

How do I get medical marijuana?

First, you’ll need to visit a certified physician to verify that you have a condition that qualifies under OMMCP rules. Once verified, your physician will create a profile for you in the Patient & Caregiver Registry. After that, you must confirm and complete your registration. Once you have completed those steps, you should be eligible to purchase medical marijuana from an approved Ohio dispensary.

Where can I get medical marijuana?

Although there are four dispensaries open in Canton, Wintersville and Sandusky, Cincinnati does not yet have any operational dispensaries. However, seven Cincinnati area dispensaries are currently under construction, according to Ohio Marijuana Card.

How will the university educate students about medical marijuana?

“We provide education to students on prescription drugs, and with any medication, it is important to use it the way it is prescribed by medical professionals,” said Brandy Reeves, director of the Student Wellness Center. “ Like other prescription drugs, there are certain limits — sharing medical marijuana is a no-go and can be prosecuted as a violation of federal law.”

Is marijuana safe?

It’s a mixed bag. “This is a topic being more and more discussed at universities as more states legalize it,” said Reeves. “For example, alcohol is a legal substance for people over 21, but it is possible for people to abuse it or use in high-risk ways, and I think that is true for cannabis too.”

The Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved cannabis as a viable treatment for any medical conditions. However, according to the 2017 research book “Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids,” marijuana is effective at treating chronic pain, nausea and muscle spasticity. It can also serve as a short-term sleep aid and does not cause lung cancer. On the flip side, chronic use can lead to increases in bronchitis, frequent illness and heightened risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Will marijuana be allowed on campus?

No — at least not under the current Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Regulations — a set of drug policy standards that UC must abide by to receive federal funds. This means that even though the use of medical marijuana is legal, it will not be permitted on campus — even if prescribed by a physician.

What happens if I bring medical marijuana to campus?

“It will depend on the situation” said Reeves. “A student will be held to the standards outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.”

Elizabeth Schmitt was with The News Record since 2016 as staff reporter, news editor and features editor. She was an editorial intern with CityBeat and graduated in May 2019.