Category: News

Ten facts about medical marijuana cultivators in Ohio

Ohio is still more than a year away from fully launching the new state program that will oversee medical marijuana use in the state.

But in the 12 months since lawmakers passed and Gov. John Kasich signed the legislation allowing the drug in Ohio, three state agencies and a new panel have been busy finalizing the rules that will control how marijuana is grown, processed, tested and sold.

Here are 10 things you should know about where things stand on medical marijuana in Ohio:

1. The Beginning: HB 523 outlined the process for adopting rules for the cultivation, testing and dispensing of the drug, with three state agencies spearheading the process.

The Department of Commerce is handling the licensing of cultivators, processors and testing laboratories. The state pharmacy board will license retail dispensaries and handle patient and caregiver registrations. The state medical board will issue certificates for physicians who will recommend use of the drug.

2. Progress to Date: The Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee had its first meeting in November, around the same time that initial rules were released for public comment.

To date, more than 30 rules have been adopted, mostly related to cultivators, the groups that will be growing medicinal marijuana in the state.

Kerry Francis, a spokeswoman at the Ohio Department of Commerce, said the initial rules focused on general definitions and other groundwork for the program, plus those that will control the cultivation of the drug.

Ultimately, state officials are focused on two things: “We want to make sure that we are protecting the safety of the public (and ensuring) a safe medical product,” Francis said.

3. Growing Marijuana: Don’t expect to drive through the Ohio countryside past green fields of marijuana waving in the wind. Rules require the plants to be grown in highly secured facilities, out of the public eye.

Growers have to complete an extensive application process to be considered for the limited number of licenses that will be made available.

There are two levels of cultivator licenses. Level I will cover larger facilities (initial operations up to 25,000 square feet), while Level II will cover smaller ones (initial areas up to 3,000 square feet).

There will be a dozen licenses awarded by state officials for each level (24 total), with provisions in the rules for additional licenses in the future, should demand warrant increased production.

Level II applications will be accepted between Monday and June 16, while Level I applications will be accepted June 19-30.

4. Show Me the Money: There’s a cost to get your foot in the door. Level I applicants have to pay $20,000 up front, while Level II pay $2,000 when submitting their initial application.

Those initial fees are nonrefundable.

If selected for a provisional license, cultivators will have to pay an additional $180,000 for Level I and $18,000 for Level II certificates. Licenses have to be renewed annually, at a cost of $200,000 for Level I and $20,000 for Level II.

5. Who Gets Licensed: The application process is extensive, requiring names of people involved, criminal background checks, disclosures of ties to marijuana operations in other states and evidence that proposed cultivation sites are either owned or leased by applicants.

That’s not to mention business plans, details about proposed facilities, staffing and employment information, inventory tracking methods and disclosures of everything from the types of fertilizers and pesticides to be used to how waste will be disposed.

Just because you pay your application fee and submit all of the requisite paperwork, that doesn’t mean you automatically get a license to produce medical marijuana. There’s a scoring process the state will use to make final licensing decisions.

6. Restrictions Apply: Growing facilities can’t be located within 500 feet of schools, churches, playgrounds and parks, and other public areas.

Also, municipalities have the authority to restrict or prohibit cultivation and other medical marijuana activities.

7. The Application Itself: There’s also a whole series of specific submission requirements for the actual application paperwork.

For example, submissions must be hand delivered to the Ohio Department of Commerce’s offices near the Statehouse between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the acceptance periods for the two application levels.

Applicants must include “one paper copy of the application in 12-point font on standard white 8.5×11 copy paper, with margins no smaller than 3/4-inch.” Applicants also must provide digital copies of their submissions on a CD or DVD.

An information packet posted online notes, “Applications that do not contain all of the required elements in the required format will not be accepted.”

8. The Approval Process: Francis said there’s no timeline for when decisions will be made on which cultivators will receive licenses, though that process likely will be completed before the end of the year to provide time for licensees to have their operations in place by September 2018, when the program is supposed to be fully up and running.

9. What’s Next: State officials tackled the cultivator rules first, but there are other rules that will be developed in coming months covering testing labs, processors, dispensaries and doctors who will recommend the use of medical marijuana.

10. Reminder: Under Ohio’s medical marijuana law, doctors will have to direct medical marijuana use for their patients, with limits on the amount of the drug they could possess. The law lists more than 20 medical conditions that would qualify for marijuana use. It also bans smoked forms of the drug and homegrown supplies.

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How Colorado’s Booming Marijuana Industry Is Helping Fight Homelessness and Drug Addiction

Money brought in by Colorado’s booming, legal marijuana industry is now being used to help homeless citizens, address mental health and end the state’s opioid epidemic.

The state’s $105 million in tax revenue from marijuana sales in the 2016-2017 fiscal year will go toward the “Marijuana Tax Cash Fund,” which will help create housing programs, aid mental health programs in jails and contribute to health programs at local middle schools. Last week, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the budget bill declaring the fund, which will also help oversight efforts for the industry.

“We expect to reduce incarceration, hospitalization and homelessness for many of Colorado’s most vulnerable citizens,” the bill reads.

For the next fiscal year, $15.3 million of those tax dollars were put toward providing “permanent supportive housing” and housing assistance for the homeless or those who were considered “at-risk” of losing their homes. The state’s Department of Education got $9.7 million to add 150 health professionals at high schools across the state, and the state’s Department of Human Services received $7.1 million to end “the use of jails for holding people who are experiencing a mental health crisis.”

Another $5.9 million will target illegal marijuana sales.

Hickenlooper also approved a different bill, which will annually allocate $500,000 of marijuana tax revenue to create a program that will send trained health care professionals to help those affected by the opioid epidemic in two Colorado counties.

A small number of states including Oregon, Washington and California, among others, have legalized the recreational use of marijuana in recent years — though it is still illegal federally. Under the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice relaxed federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states where it is legal. But the Trump Administration may walk back that effort.

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Did You Know Legal Marijuana Sales Surpass Viagra, Tequila and Girl Scout Cookies?

tequila plant

U.S. consumers will spend somewhere between $5 billion and $6 billion on legal marijuana in 2017, according to a new report released this month. By 2021, that number could reach a staggering $17 billion.

The numbers come courtesy of the Marijuana Business Factbook 2017, issued in May by editorial and research staff at Marijuana Business Daily. The report is based on an online survey of more than 800 people working in the cannabis business and, if anything, is shaded toward the conservative side.

“It’s important to note that we are somewhat conservative with our estimates and projections, both for the existing industry and its potential growth going forward,” the reports executive summary states. “We strive to provide realistic numbers, not make the industry appear bigger than it really is.”

Almost As Popular as Frozen Pizza

The report, which also used information on retail transactions and wholesale cannabis pricing from Headset and Cannabis Benchmarks, offered a variety of interesting facts about marijuana sales.

For example, the total amount spent in 2016 on both recreational and legal marijuana ($4 to $4.5 billion) is more than the amount spent on:

  • Erectile dysfunction drugs Viagra and Cialis
  • Paid music streaming services
  • Tequila
  • Girl Scout cookies

In 2017, it could surpass sales of Doritos, Cheetos, Funyuns, frozen pizza and ice cream, according to the report.

Other interesting numbers.

The report also offered projections on the economic impact of cannabis, as well as other issues. The numbers included the following:

  • Legal marijuana had an economic impact of $16 billion to $18 billion in 2016, a number that could rise to $68 billion by 2021
  • The number of people working in the cannabis industry – somewhere around 200,000 – is more than those employed as massage therapists, bakers and dental hygienists.
  • The average marijuana business has a profit margin of about 19 percent
  • The average number of customers per day at a recreational marijuana shop is 119

The report indicated that an area of concern for cannabis professionals is the stance on legal marijuana by the Trump Administration.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly attacked both the legal sale of marijuana and the benefits of marijuana itself. There is concern about federal intervention in states where marijuana is legal, the report states.

On the positive side, the number and size of individual investments in the cannabis industry is growing. While large institutional investors have steered clear because of the status of marijuana as an illegal drug under federal law, smaller investors have picked up the pace in cannabis investment.

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