Ohio's Medical Marijuana Regulators Seek $1.8M to Regulate

Everybody must get paid.

As is the case in most states with medical marijuana programs, pot-as-medicine is shaping up to be problematic for Ohio. Buckeye State voters approved House Bill 523 earlier this year, which legalizes the use of medical marijuana when the law goes into effect September 8. But before any bud is legally bought, or consumed––the program doesn't have to be up-and-running, and working logically, until 2018––Ohio has much to figure out about the weed game. 

Estimates for expected weed revenues land at $400M, which provides several million dollars of taxable motivation, but Ohio's medical marijuana problems are unique to the state: Legislators proposed a closed-loop payment system that would have state lawmakers controlling and monitoring all medical marijuana finances. Ohio lawyers have been told they’re not allowed to provide counsel to aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs. Doctors must have a reported “bona-fide” relationship with any patients receiving recommendations. All these factors of complexity are why, at first glance, it makes sense that bureaucrats set to regulate the medical marijuana landscape are requesting $1.8M to do the job. 

But throwing a lot of money at weed, doesn't guarantee the public actually gets weed. Cleveland.com reports on how state operatives plan to spend said requested $krilla

“Most of the money will be used to hire nine staff members to help write the rules and regulations for the new medical marijuana program, including how growers and dispensaries will be licensed and how patients will register with the program. . . The rest will be spent on consultants, stipends for advisory committee members and supplies. The agencies plan to reimburse the costs with future marijuana business license fees, which won't start rolling in until next year at the earliest. The program must be "fully operational" by September 2018, according to the law.”

The Ohio Pharmacy Board and the Ohio Department of Commerce––the regulatory bureaucrats seeking bucks––have different but similar plans  on how to spend the money. The pharmacy board envisions a portion of its requested $822,400 being used to start from scratch on digital solutions that  already exist in the cannabis space. It reportedly hopes to build "a software system to register patients and caregivers for medical marijuana cards, and maintaining a website educating the public."  

Image via Ren and Stimpy

Maybe the state would be better off saving some of that money. Instead of starting from scratch on heady digital solutions, perhaps the Buckeye state could seek out a partnership with HelloMD––a cannabis industry tech player that already has telehealth-powered doctor recommendations on lock; and recently launched an informative, cannabis-Q&A site.

The commerce department is seeking an additional $923,007, according to Cleveland.com, to be spent as following:

"$421,978 for five employees. . .$300,000 for consultants and initial development for databases. . . $171,099 for supplies, rent, travel and administrative costs. . . $30,000 for computer equipment and a car."

Ohio isn't the first state to initiate a medical marijuana program before it really even knows what medical marijuana is, and the processes required by such a system of checks, balances, and bodacious nugs. But maybe, hopefully, if the next few states lined up to go legal are paying attention, it could be one of the last.