Ohio to license 18 medical marijuana growers

1:35 p.m Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 Local News

Ohio will license 12 large growers and six smaller cultivators for its new medical marijuana industry and require them to be ready to grow marijuana within nine months of getting their initial licenses, according to cultivator rules unveiled Tuesday.

Licensed cultivators will be required to demonstrate they have adequate capital funding, quality assurance and security plans, and test their product through a qualified laboratory before packaging and distributing the drugs, the rules show.

License fees for the dozen Level 1 cultivators will be $180,000 each, plus a $20,000 application fee. The six Level 2 licensed cultivators will each pay an $18,000 license fee, plus a $2,000 application fee.

The cultivator rules, which will be posted at http://medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov/rules, were released at the first meeting of the 14-member Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee in Columbus on Tuesday. The committee, appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, makes recommendations on how to control and regulate the industry.

The proposed rules still need to go through layers of approvals, including a review by the Common Sense Initiative and the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.

In June, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law a measure that legalizes marijuana for use by patients with 21 conditions, such as cancer, traumatic brain injury or chronic pain. It allows medical marijuana edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing but not smoking or home growing. The law provides a regulatory framework but leaves details up to state agencies to hammer out. The law gives state regulators two years to get the entire program up and running.

Regulation will be handled by three state agencies:

¦The Ohio Department of Commerce will run a seed-to-sale program and oversee the licensed cultivators.

¦The State Medical Board of Ohio will certify doctors who are eligible for recommend marijuana for their patients.

¦ The Ohio Pharmacy Board will register patients and caregivers and oversee dispensaries, including deciding how many there should be statewide.

Ohio is among 25 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical marijuana. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have legalized pot for recreational use as well. Voters in five more states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — will decide Tuesday whether to legalize adult use of marijuana.

Polls show growing support for legal pot. A Gallup survey released last month shows 60 percent of Americans support making marijuana legal.

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