President Trump said he was “100 percent” in favor of medical marijuana during his campaign. Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of marijuana’s most vocal opponents, went as far as to call the 2013 Cole Memo – the Department of Justice guidance deprioritizing the enforcement of federal laws against states that legalized marijuana – “valid.” The tea-leaves-reading seems positive for those interested in getting involved in Ohio’s medical marijuana industry as the State continues to cultivate a tightly regulated program.
Most recently, Ohio released a new draft of the proposed rules governing dispensaries. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (the “Board”) received over 300 comments to its initial draft of the proposed rules resulting in changes from everything to advertising to home delivery.
Perhaps the most significant change was the increase in provisional dispensary licenses awarded from 40 to 60, signaling the Board’s recognition of the greater need for patient access and demand. Furthermore, the Board may have put applicants at some ease by clarifying that it will return the $5,000 application fee if the Board grants permission to withdraw an application due to a change in federal, state, or local rules or regulations. The comments received also caused the Board to decrease the biennial fee to operate a dispensary from $80,000 to $70,000.
There was a personnel change as well. The initial draft rules called for dispensaries to hire a part-time clinical director who was either a physician, pharmacist, or mid-level practitioner with prescribing authority to oversee operations. This requirement proved too onerous and was removed entirely. In response to a Board survey, only a small number of eligible clinicians said they were both willing and had an employer who would allow them to serve as a dispensary’s clinical director.
50% more commenters responded against allowing home delivery of