Back in July, Ohio became the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana – the state passed a bill to create a medical marijuana program before an initiative could make it to the ballot. With medical marijuana finally addressed, the initiative died off – but patients with one of 20 qualifying conditions will soon enough be able to legally access medical marijuana. The laws will allow for vaporized cannabis, oils and patches – but no smoking and it will only be available through licensed dispensaries.
The laws will go into effect on September 8th – but there is still a lot of work to get done before patients will be able to access their medicine. In order to get things up and running the state has given just over $1.8 million to the Department of Commerce and the Ohio Pharmacy Board to operate the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. With this funding finally squared away things can start moving forward on schedule – and maybe they could even shorten the estimated 2 years to get things up and running.
Out of the $1.8 million, the Department of Commerce will receive $923,077 to fund licensing of growers, processors and testing facilities and the Ohio Pharmacy Board will get $882,400 to use for updating the prescription reporting system, licensing of dispensaries and hiring staff as well as operating the Medical Marijuana Control Program. Over time, the programs licensing fees are expected to fund the program without additional state funds being needed.
For those looking to get into the industry, the process is expected to be similar to obtaining other business licenses – background checks will be conducted, along with what is likely a good bit of paperwork and a hefty fee (though the last two are speculation when looking at other states). However, small home-grows will not be allowed, so it will be strictly larger growers being licensed.
“I’m pleased to see that the necessary steps are being taken immediately as this law takes effect. It is important that we are able to get this vital medicine to patients who need it as soon as possible,” said state Rep. Dan Ramos.
While it is unfortunate that patients will still be waiting about two years for access to medical marijuana (some states have allowed out-of-state products until their programs are active, however Ohio hasn’t mentioned this so far) at least they are doing everything they can to work quickly on it. If they work hard, the industry could be up and running much sooner than expected – but either way, at least lawmakers aren’t sitting on the issue after signing the bill into law.