On Tuesday, the new Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee unveiled the rules they want to oversee cultivators for the state’s new medical cannabis program. The proposed rules call for 12 large growers and 6 small growers to serve the state’s medical marijuana industry.
The larger growers (Level 1) will need a total of $200,000 to get a license under the proposed rules, while the smaller growers (Level 2) will only need $20,000. Besides the money, potential licensed growers will also need to prove they have enough capital funding, quality assurance and security plans, and that they test their product through a qualified lab.
The Ohio medical marijuana program itself is rather restrictive, with only 21 qualifying conditions, no legal smoking and no home growing allowed, which means only a small percentage of those who could benefit from medical cannabis will be able to get it legally when the program is finally up and running.
But it didn’t have to be this way. Some of you may remember Ohio’s Issue 3, which was soundly voted down by Ohioans last November. That measure would have not only legalized medical marijuana, it would have allowed any adult to grow up to 4 plants at home without a doctor’s permission and would have set up a system of over 1,000 retail shops where adults could have purchased up to an ounce of marijuana — again, without permission from a doctor.
Opponents of Issue 3 from within the cannabis community said it was a bad measure because it would only allow for 10 big growers and that something even better was coming down the pike for 2016. As it turned out, there wasn’t. The Ohio legislature undercut legalizers that already had a funding problem by passing the limited medical cannabis bill that Ohio cannabis consumers are now stuck with.
As a writer, I took a lot of heat on social media for touting Issue 3 and telling everyone who would listen that nothing better was coming; that Issue 3, with all its flaws, was the best way to legalize cannabis for the most people in Ohio, including patients. I was called every name in the book by people who supposedly support legalization, but I was right. If Issue 3 had passed all cannabis consumers in Ohio would be better off.
The lesson to be learned here is that waiting for “perfect legalization” only leads to compromise on the terms of those who oppose legalization. There will never be perfect legalization; that is a myth that lives in the heads of idealists. The massive walls of marijuana prohibition will not come down all at once. It is only through the steady hammering and chipping away at the wall that real progress is made.