The road to medical marijuana in Ohio has been a long one, and patients in the state aren’t at the finish line yet; a lot of work still remains to be done before even most people who need it have access to medical cannabis in Ohio.

But some of the program is finally getting put into place, and the process of actually becoming qualified for medical marijuana seems to be a fairly simple one. The first step is finding a physician who has an active Certificate to Recommend (CTR) from the State Medical Board of Ohio. If the doctor feels you qualify with one or more of the acceptable conditions, they can get you set up in the Ohio Medical Marijuana Registry. At this point, you will receive an email that allows you to create a profile and pay the registration fee, which is $50 a year for patients and $25 for caregivers.

The last phase is the hardest one currently, and that is finding a dispensary that sells legal medical cannabis products. As I write this, the only dispensaries open are in the northern part of the state. And even for the patients who can make the trip, there are no tinctures or edibles or vape pens, as those await the licensing and opening of processing centers.

As more doctors become certified for the program and more dispensaries open their doors, the fledgling medical marijuana industry will one day grow into something that functions for the vast majority of patients. And with 20+ conditions on a qualifying list that can also be expanded via a petition process, hundreds of thousands of people who find relief with cannabis in Ohio will no longer be criminalized.

If you are an activist in Ohio, this is a good time to reflect on the road it took to get here while remembering that there is still a long way to go. Most people in Ohio who could benefit from medical cannabis have no legal means to obtain it. This is an unacceptable situation, no matter what stage a medical marijuana program is in. Illness doesn’t wait. Illness doesn’t debate regulations and issue licenses. It doesn’t take a break until a dispensary opens within 25 miles of a sick person.

If you live in Ohio and you suffer from one of the qualifying ailments, don’t wait for a dispensary – see a certified doctor and get registered as soon as possible. Then, when a dispensary does open up close enough to you, you’ll be ready to walk through the door.

One last note: medical marijuana in Ohio is not cheap, and the price will only come down when supply is robust enough to meet demand. It’s up to each individual patient to decide whether or not that price is too high to pay for being legal.