Ohio has built it, but will they come?
Prospective medical marijuana cultivators now know what Ohio rules for getting growers’ licenses looks like. They were finalized last Monday and application forms were released Friday.
Ohio’s medical marijuana law allows people with 21 medical conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy, to purchase and use marijuana after getting a doctor’s recommendation. The law doesn’t allow smoking.
The issue to watch is whether certain regulations will curb the program’s ability to get an adequate supply of medical cannabis to patients. Regulators say the rules balance access with public safety and can be revisited later.
“The most genuine answer that anyone can give about Ohio’s program is that this has never been done before, so we don’t know if it will work, or serve patients,” said Dr. Jahan Marcu, chief science officer at Americans for Safe Access. “So patients will just have to wait and see.”
A look at several key issues that have arisen on the cultivation front:
Ohio has set some of the highest licensing fees in the country. Larger growers must pay a $20,000 application fee and a $180,000 license fee. Smaller grow operations must pay $2,000 to apply and an $18,000 license fee. Annual renewal fees are equally hefty.
Up to 24 licenses — 12 for large growers, 12 for small growers — will be made available, with some growers and patient advocates raising concerns that the total 336,000 square feet available won’t be enough to produce an adequate crop. Estimates of the Ohio patient population vary widely, from 185,000 to 325,000 people.
Missy Craddock, of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, recently told a state advisory board the high financial bar will assure participating growers think seriously about the financial commitment before entering the field.
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