The Food and Drug Administration has warned the public to beware of fraudulent advertising that promises that certain marijuana-derived products can be used to prevent, diagnose, treat and cure cancer.

Ohio physicians may soon be eligible for certification to recommend marijuana to patients with applicable health issues.

Since late March, the State Medical Board of Ohio has received 50 applications — eight of which came from the Cincinnati area — from doctors who wish to legally recommend the substance. Now, the board must approve enough applicants to supply a potential 300,000 eligible Ohioans with medical marijuana.

Dr. William Sawyer, a local doctor with over 30 years of medical experience, was one of the first doctors in Ohio to apply for certification under the state’s Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program.

“There’s lots of modalities we use to treat many different conditions, and cannabis has medicinal value in many disease states,” says Sawyer, who owns a family medicine office in Sharonville. “We should be able to offer patients what works for them — not just what the pharmaceutical industry directs us to.”

Before applying for a license to recommend marijuana, doctors must take a two-hour informational course to learn about the substance.

“It was very informative and very educational,” Sawyer said. “There’s a tremendous amount of research that they had access to.”

The state of Ohio offers a list of medical conditions that could qualify patients for a medicinal marijuana recommendation. The list includes ailments like AIDS, cancer, epilepsy and chronic pain, among the 21 conditions listed.

Marijuana is considered an effective pain reliever for those with chronic pain or multiple sclerosis. Beyond reducing physical pain, doctors have found that marijuana can reduce tremors in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers are also studying marijuana’s role in anxiety reduction — specifically, in patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found insufficient evidence to confirm marijuana’s suggested positive impact on chronic pain, however.

Many doctors would favor recommending marijuana over legally-available opiate prescription solutions. Opiate addictions often stem from pain pill abuse — an ongoing trend in cities like Cincinnati.

“In the states that have legalized [medical marijuana], they don’t have the opiate problem we have here,” Sawyer said.

Some medical centers, including UC Health and Mercy Health, are waiting to determine the program’s success before letting their doctors pursue certification.

“I don’t know what it’s going to be like,” Sawyer said. “Taking baby steps is a good idea.”

As of November 2017, 12 businesses are approved (out of 109 applicants) to legally grow marijuana in spaces up to 25,000 square feet within the state of Ohio. These facilities, which constitute the state’s first legal marijuana farms, will source marijuana prescribed to qualifying in-state patients.

However, some believe that the application process to legally grow marijuana in Ohio is flawed. Jimmy Gould, founder and CEO of Green Light Acquisitions, filed a lawsuit against the state after his application to grow medical marijuana was denied, Columbus Business First reported.

Six additional companies have joined Gould’s lawsuit, alleging that the licensing process provided misleading information and rewarded applicants who failed to meet criteria.

“We want a fair and equitable program,” Gould told Columbus Business First. “It is a broken system, completely broken.”

The goal is to have the program operational — with operable marijuana greenhouses and certified doctors — by the state’s Sept. 8 deadline.