COLUMBUS (WJW) — A potential shakeup to Ohio’s medical marijuana program has some industry professionals raising a red flag.
“What this is going to do, is it’s going to cause a cannibalization within the market, where’s there’s not enough market and not enough patients,” The executive director of Ohio’s Medical Cannabis Industry Association Matt Close said during a virtual press conference Monday to announce the industry’s strong opposition to Senate Bill 9 — pending legislation that makes changes to the medical marijuana control program.
“We have a patient program, a patient count that has leveled out, we’re looking at 116,000 patients and its leveled out really since last summer and we’re looking at a market that has really slowed down,” said Close.
Possible legislation changes include making the Ohio Department of Commerce the exclusive manager of the state’s cultivators, dispensaries, processors and patients, responsibilities currently shared with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
Also, the unwanted expansion of licensed dispensary owners.
Daniel Kessler, co-owner and CEO of Riviera Creek said, “This program expansion adds immense supply to an already over-supplied market. Despite my companies’ high quality product reputation, we’re currently holding hundreds of pounds of material that we’re unable to sell.”
The Medical Cannabis Industry Association is also recommending Senate Bill 9 add new qualifying medical conditions for cannabis use, like anxiety and insomnia.
Patient advocate Theresa Daniello, owner of TD Cann Institute, who is in support of most aspects of Senate Bill 9, says the current market is stagnating due to inaccessibility.
Taking down barriers and patient affordability, she says, will be key.
“So the more dispensary licenses that we’re able to get out for patients, the better off we are,” she said.
Matt Close says while there are some aspects of Senate Bill 9 his industry is in favor of, he says it will ultimately punish existing cannabis companies that have invested hundreds of millions of development dollars into the state.
A hearing on Senate Bill 9 is set for Tuesday in the Ohio Senate general government committee, where opponent testimony will be heard.