Ohio medical marijuana program too expensive, study finds

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More than 60% of Ohio residents are dissatisfied with the state’s medical cannabis program, citing high prices as the No. 1 reason, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, showed perceptions of the medical marijuana program’s effectiveness have improved some from a year ago but still have quite a ways to go.

The report noted that Ohio’s MMJ program, which launched in January 2019, is still “not fully operational, creating concerns around persistent delays and the overall functionality of the program.”

Some Ohio medical marijuana companies recently complained that the market is being constrained and called for more dispensaries and permission to expand cultivation facilities. They noted that Ohio lags far behind Pennsylvania in the development of its program.

Ohio also is losing marijuana business to Michigan, as Ohioans are crossing the border to buy less expensive products in a state that launched adult-use sales in December 2019.

Here are some of the key findings from the Ohio State University study:

  • 61.6% of the respondents said they were somewhat or extremely dissatisfied. (That’s an improvement from 67% last year).
  • 86.1% of those surveyed said they have a qualifying condition to use medical marijuana, but only 51.5% actually use MMJ. The top two reasons cited as preventing them from participating in the MMJ program were cost and fear of losing their jobs.

The recent Marijuana Business Factbook projected that Ohio MMJ sales would reach $175 million-$225 million this year. By comparison, Pennsylvania medical marijuana sales are expected to hit $400 million-$500 million.