Ohio commits money to implement medical marijuana program

A bipartisan Ohio budget panel voted unanimously to release some $1.8 million to implement the state’s new medical marijuana program, delivering funds to regulators that will oversee the new industry.

The Ohio Department of Commerce and the state’s pharmacy board – the two agencies in charge of licensing MMJ firms – requested the money. Ohio’s medical cannabis law didn’t include provision for funding MMJ regulatory agencies, the Toledo Blade reported.

The commerce department, which will license growers, processors and testing laboratories, requested $923,000. The department will use the money for hiring five additional staffers, training, research,and a new database, according to the Blade.

The pharmacy board asked for $882,400 and will license dispensaries, register patients and caregivers. It also will oversee a 14-member panel that will advise regulators.

The pharmacy board will hire an attorney, a legal assistant, the 14 panel members, a licensing supervisor, a fiscal analyst and two licensing coordinators, according to the Blade.

The Ohio Medical Board, which will certify doctors who participate in the program, hasn’t yet requested funds.

The Department of Commerce must have rules in place for would-be cultivators by next May. By September 2017, the three agencies must have adopted the rest of their regulations. The law requires the program to be fully operational within two years.