On April 17, 2017, the Ohio legislature’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review voted to finalize the rules and regulations for the state’s medical marijuana cultivators. After five months of deliberation, the rules have not changed very much since their initial proposal, but some key differences have emerged.
A critical change to the proposed rules included increasing the number of medical marijuana cultivator licenses from 18 to 24—12 licenses for level I growers and 12 for level II growers. After Sept. 8, 2018, the state will have the option to increase the number of licenses or growing space allowed to meet any additional demand.
Other changes include abandoning the idea of splitting the state into four regions in favor of simply awarding licenses to the best applicants.
Licensing fees will still remain one of the highest in the country. Application fees for level I growers will cost $20,000, along with with a $180,000 “operation fee” should they be awarded a license. Level II growers will have to pay a $2,000 application fee along with an $18,000 operation fee.
On top of that, annual license renewals will cost $200,000 for level I growers and $20,000 for level II growers.
Although the rules passed with little objection from the committee, some medical marijuana advocates worry about the effect the rules will have for the patients, such as Renea Murnahan-Turner, CEO of Cannabis for Cures.
“You can buy a pharmaceutical [license] to open up a pharmacy for $750, but the Board of Pharmacy wants to charge $100,000 and a $750,000 bond for a medical marijuana license,” Murnahan-Turner told the committee. “At the end of the day and all of those fees and all of that process the patients will not be able to afford their medical marijuana for their health issues.”