$1.8M in state funds go to regulating medical marijuana in Ohio

As Ohio prepares for the medical marijuana law next month, we will follow how state money will be used to regulate it. Like our Ohio Politics Facebook page for the latest news.

State agencies that will oversee Ohio’s budding medical marijuana industry will share $1.8 million in seed money to begin regulatory efforts.

The Ohio Controlling Board agreed to release $1,805,477 to the state Department of Commerce and Ohio Pharmacy Board to operate the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program.

In June, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law a measure that lays out a framework for regulating the new industry and lists 19 qualifying conditions for patients to be eligible. It prohibits home growing of marijuana and smoking cannabis and allows employers to dismiss workers who violate their workplace drug policies.

The law takes effect Sept. 8. The program is supposed to be operational no later than September 2018.

“I’m pleased to see that the necessary steps are being taken immediately as this law takes effect,” said state Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, who supported the bill. “It is important that we are able to get this vital medicine to patients who need it as soon as possible.”

The Pharmacy Board, which will receive $882,400 of the $1.8 million, will hire oversight staff, update its prescription reporting system, license medical marijuana dispensaries and operate the Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee. The commerce department, which will receive $923,077, will license growers, processors and testing labs.

The program kicked off a new website, where people can get answers to frequently asked questions, sign up for updates, and find other info about the law and regulations: www.medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov

Nationwide, 42 states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws that recognize medicinal value to marijuana and 25 states have “workable” medical marijuana laws, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. The federal government still classifies marijuana as an illegal substance but authorities this month agreed to make more marijuana available for research projects.

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