The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program was allotted $5 million last month in the state budget, and today the Ohio Department of Commerce and State Board of Pharmacy intend on requesting
$5.6 million more.
The nearly $11 million total, Ohio regulators say, is necessary to cover a medical marijuana tracking database, a toll-free help line and legal costs expected to stem from issues about Ohio's licensing laws.
Currently, Ohio legally lets
people with medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, Crohn's disease and 18 others purchase and use marijuana, if advised by a physician (many of whom are not keen on getting licenses
that allow them to prescribe the drug.)
Ohio legalized medical marijuana last year, making it the 28th state
to do so. In a speech back in May, Ohio Supreme Court Justice (and likely 2018 candidate for governor) William O'Neill endorsed
marijuana legalization in the state, as well as the removal of "all non-violent marijuana offenders" from prison.
“The time has come for new thinking,” O'Neill said
in a speech. “We regulate and tax alcohol and tobacco and imprison people for smoking grass."
Since the legislation is relatively new, the state is still figuring out how it can be fully implemented. Last month, 185 people applied
for licenses to grow marijuana, which meant $2.3 million in fees contributed to the state. Ohio is expected to grant 24 licenses total, half for large growing spaces ($200,000 to renew each year) and half for smaller ones ($20,000.)
State agencies have laid out
a plan for spending the $11 million they'll request today; the Department of Commerce estimates they'll put almost $7 million toward payroll, supplies and other services, plus legal expenses. The Board of Pharmacy expects to spend around $4 million total, primarily on payroll and establishing dispensary locations.
If all goes according to the state's current plan
, these dispensaries will be available by September 2018.