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Initial funding for state's medical marijuana regulatory efforts OK'd

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published: August 22, 2016 2:00 PM

Columbus -- State lawmakers signed off Aug. 22 on the initial funding for Ohio's new medical marijuana regulatory efforts.

The Controlling Board, without comment, OK'd $1.8 million requested through several state agencies, via a new medical marijuana control program fund that will allow the Department of Commerce and Pharmacy Board to operate the program.

Under legislation passed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. John Kasich earlier this year and set to take effect in a couple of weeks, the Ohio Department of Commerce will head the licensing of medical marijuana cultivators, processors and testing labs, while the Pharmacy Board will license dispensaries and the registration of patients and caregivers, according to documents.

The latter also will operate a new advisory committee, which will offer recommendations for the regulation of medical marijuana in the state.

The Controlling Board items Aug. 22 included more than $923,000 for the commerce department for "staffing (to initiate and enforce program rules and regulations), training, research and establishment of the required database."

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The Pharmacy Board was approved for $882,400 for new staff and related systems. Its hires will include an attorney to coordinate the program, "drafting all rules and regulations, answering legal questions from agency staff, preparing administrative hearings and coordinating the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee."

Included in the cost is a new medical marijuana website that will "provide the public with the most up-to-date information on the development and operation of the program."

In a separate item Aug. 22, lawmakers approved nearly $701,000 for the Pharmacy Board's efforts to combat opioid addiction.

According to documents, "Since 2010, the number of locations that store dangerous drugs licensed by the board has increased by more than 6,000 sites. The addition of these licensees has increased overall demand on staff to process, issue, investigate, hold administrative hearings and, in the case of locations, inspect facilities that store controlled substances, including opioids."

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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