Ohio medical marijuana grow licenses would be capped at 18, cost $200,000
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio licensing fees for medical marijuana growers would be among the highest in the country if rules drafted by the Ohio Department of Commerce are approved.
Would-be medical marijuana growers would compete for up to 18 state cultivator licenses according to a summary of the draft rules released Tuesday.
Growers would pay a $20,000 application fee and $180,000 license fee for one of 12 “Level I” licenses for larger grow sites and a $2,000 application fee and $18,000 license fee for one of six “Level II” licenses under the proposal. The summary doesn’t indicate the site size difference between the two.
Ohio’s large-grow license would cost more than cultivator licenses issued in every state that licenses medical marijuana cultivators except New York and Illinois, which limited its cultivation licenses to 22 statewide. Applicants would have to demonstrate they have adequate capital, but the summary doesn’t include the proposed amount. In Illinois, applicants had to show proof of $500,000 in liquid assets.
Pennsylvania, which passed a medical marijuana law shortly before Ohio, has proposed a $210,000 application and license fee for up to 25 cultivators.
A department spokeswoman could not give more details about the plan Tuesday morning, but said the full rules would be posted to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program website by Wednesday morning.
Department Director Jacqueline Williams said the rules were developed after reviewing programs in other states and talking with industry experts.
“Our goal is to develop a program that ensures the safety of the public and ensures access to safe medical products,” Williams told the Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee on Tuesday.
Ohio’s medical marijuana law allows patients with about 20 medical conditions to buy and use marijuana if recommended by a doctor. The law prohibits smoking and growing marijuana at home.
The law left most of the regulatory details, including how to license growers and register patients, to the Ohio Department of Commerce, Ohio State Board of Pharmacy and Ohio State Medical Board to decide over the next year.
The Ohio Department of Commerce has until May 2017 to establish rules and regulations for cultivators, and rules for dispensaries, processors and testing labs must be set by September 2017.
Licensing fees will cover costs associated with running the program. The commerce department and pharmacy board have already requested $1.8 million to set up the program.
A 14-member committee appointed by the governor and legislative leaders will advise the three agencies throughout the process. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee met for the first time on Tuesday.
The full draft cultivator rules will be posted to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program website for public comment. They will then be vetted by the Common Sense Initiative, which gauges impact to small business, and the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. Public comment will be accepted by both panels.