Medical marijuana fees may exceed program costs


Associated Press

COLUMBUS

State regulators in Ohio acknowledge that proposed licensing fees for medical marijuana businesses could initially exceed the state’s costs of operating the program.

Missy Craddock, of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, told an advisory panel Friday the program is requested roughly $2.5 million a year for operational costs in each of the next two years. That doesn’t include a number of unknown costs, including setting up the program’s licensing, product tracking and payment systems and establishing a required toll-free hotline.

If the state issues all the licenses it’s making available – 24 to cultivators, 40 to product processors and 60 to dispensaries – fees as proposed would generate $10.8 million. The state has also made application fees for the licenses non-refundable.

Several advisers pushed back against the idea that fees might be too high.

“I’m all for the state being properly funded,” said committee member Ted Bibart. “I’m just not for the patient bearing that weight.”

Ohio’s medical marijuana law went into effect in June, with a target date to be operational of September 2018. It allows people with 21 medical conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS and epilepsy, to purchase and use marijuana after getting a doctor’s recommendation. The law doesn’t allow smoking.

Ohio has set some of the highest fees of any medical marijuana state: a $20,000 application fee and $180,000 license fee for larger growers, and a $2,000 application fee and $18,000 license fee for smaller growers.

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