Despite delays in the State of Ohio’s regulatory structure for the now-legal medical marijuana industry, industry experts are projecting healthy sales of $154 million for 2019, the program’s first full year in operation. The first cultivation of legal medical cannabis began just weeks ago in the Buckeye State. Growers, processors, dispensary owners, medical professionals are scrambling to meet a pent-up demand for the remedy, which could be legally used by nearly half a million Ohio patients, say experts.

Chronic pain may help drive $1.54 million in sales in Ohio’s medical marijuana program in its first year.

According to the 2017 Cannabis Industry Annual Report by industry analysis firm New Frontier Data, the majority of medical cannabis patients in Ohio are likely to be taking medical marijuana for chronic pain, if trends from other states hold true. In Arizona, for example, over 80% of medical marijuana card holders use the drug for chronic pain, like a majority of patients in Colorado, Hawaii, and Nevada and Oregon. Nationally, over 100 million Americans — nearly a third of adults — suffer from chronic pain.

Quoted by Cleveland.com, Ohio State University law professor Doug Berman said, “Right now there’s zero patients, but the program starts in the fall, and I’ve seen estimates that range from as low as 40,000 patients to as high as 400,000 patients. It’s a gigantic range,” he said, noting that he believes the initial number will end up being around 200,000 patients.

Nationally, sales of legal medical cannabis are projected to grow by more than a billion dollars a year from 2018’s projection of $6.07 billion dollars.