Ohio medical marijuana group opposes expansion bill | 98.9 FM The ANSWER

Potential changes to Ohio’s medical marijuana control program that would expand the types of conditions eligible for treatment and creates the Division of Marijuana Control has industry groups concerned.

The Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association said Monday expanding cultivation space and licenses comes is unnecessary and comes at a time when many of the state’s growers have reduced production and the patient-base is stagnant.

“Ohio’s stagnant patient base does not warrant [Senate Bill 9’s] additional licensure and expansion of cultivation space,” said Matt Close, executive director of the OMICA. “The last thing we need is more supply. Instead, legislation should focus on addressing our industry’s most significant challenge: excessive barriers to patient participation.”

SB9, which goes before the Senate General Government Committee on Tuesday, is similar to legislation that passed the Senate during the last General Assembly in December 2021. It did not pass the House. That bill, just like the new one, was introduced by Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City.

“As a medical doctor and a state senator, I am committed to improving the quality of life of the people I serve,” Huffman said after Senate passage in 2021. “My hope is that this business-friendly bill will create greater access for patients at a lower cost.”

Close, though, says many cultivators have dialed back production by 30-50% and the number of active patients in the state is holding steady at 163,000. Also, the current price is at an all-time low of about $7.50 per gram, nearly half of the cost in Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Huffman’s bill would add arthritis, migraines, autism spectrum disorder, spasticity or chronic muscle spasms, hospice care or terminal illness and opioid use disorder to the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana use.

It also allows physicians to recommend marijuana for treatment for any condition the physician is qualified to treat.

“We are opposed to the massive expansion outlined in SB9 because it lacks the data justifying that such an expansion is needed,” said Bryan Murray, executive vice president of government relations at Acreage Holdings. “The negative impact of oversupply in markets across the nation cannot be overstated – and opening the floodgates in contradiction to market realities would be detrimental to the industry in Ohio.”

The group offered several recommendations to make the program more accessible, including adding anxiety, insomnia and depression as qualified conditions.

It also recommends eliminating the state, local and county sales tax on medical marijuana, along with adding employment protections for card holders and reduce or eliminate the state medical card registration fee.

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