The Ohio deadline to have medical marijuana ready to go for the state is September 18, 2018 after voters approved legalization last November. Officials are suggesting they are under a real time crunch and that it will be challenging to meet the deadline but other states like Florida had deadlines set for this year and are managing to get laws in place. Do you think that there is more to the slow progress than just too much to do before the Ohio deadline?
In less than a year, some of Ohio’s sickest residents should legally have a new drug to consider: medical marijuana.
The state’s newly created Medical Marijuana Control Program is under a Sept. 8, 2018 deadline to fully roll out the new law. Already, hundreds of new rules have been crafted to regulate the budding industry.
But hundreds more decisions are still pending.
“The state has a really tight timeline. There’s no room for error,” said James Gould, chairman of Green Light Acquisitions, a Cincinnati-based holding firm for medical marijuana-related ventures.
But with less than year to go, Ohio still has lots of work ahead.
Among the biggest items still to be decided: Who will be able to grow, process, test and sell medical marijuana across Ohio.
More than 180 wannabe marijuana farmers have applied to be one of 24 licensed cultivators. By November, the state’s expected to announce which of those applicants will be awarded the 12 licenses for large operations and 12 for smaller farms.
Applicants have tens of thousands of dollars riding on their bet to become part of what some have estimated will become the country’s largest medical marijuana market.
“Ohio has the potential to be a serious heavyweight in this industry,” said Chris Walsh of Marijuana Business Daily, a Colorado-based news and research firm. “In terms of patient counts and retail revenues, Ohio could become a behemoth.”
Large cultivators had to pay a non-refundable $20,000 application, and will face a $180,000 licensing fee and $200,000 annual operating fee if approved. Smaller operations paid a $2,000 application fee and must pay an $18,000 licensing fee and a $20,000 annual renewal fee. Money raised from those fees will pay for the Medical Marijuana Control Program.
Farmers who are chosen must be ready to immediately launch their new ventures. Marijuana can take up to 14 weeks to harvest. That doesn’t include the time it takes to turn the plants into consumable and state-approved medical products, or the time it will take for dozens of new marijuana-based firms to get their businesses off the ground.
It all adds up to a massive time crunch, Gould said.
“Work your way backwards (from September 2018), and you damn well better know how to build a building,” said Gould, who has applied for a large cultivator licenses. “You have to know how to build a business. You have to know how to grow, how to get it transported, have no contamination and proper controls over traffic and security.”
“We’re hoping we can avoid a bottleneck”
Starting next year, patients are supposed to be able register online for a medical marijuana card, which comes with a $50 fee. Patients who are approved for medical marijuana must have one of 26 qualifying conditions and have doctor’s recommendation. A final date hasn’t been set for when the registry will be open.
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