Officials need $1.8 million to get Ohio’s medical marijuana program running

State officials want $1.8 million to get Ohio’s medical marijuana program off the ground, with much of it going toward new personnel and developing a patient registration system and other databases.

The state law legalizing medical marijuana takes effect Sept. 8. If approved on Monday by the state Controlling Board, a legislative spending oversight panel, the $1.8 million will be divided between two agencies that are expected to repay the funds someday with future licensing revenue.

The Department of Commerce, which is responsible for licensing marijuana farmers, processors and testing labs, gets $923,077. Of those funds, $422,000 would go for hiring five people.

Another $300,000 will go for consultation and the development of databases, while $201,000 is for office supplies, computer equipment and a car.

The department has already put out a request for an expert in the economics and cultivation of marijuana who would assist with the development of rules and regulations for marijuana growers.

The contractor, which will be paid less than $50,000, would analyze anticipated demand, consult on growing facilities and establish qualifications.

The state Pharmacy Board, which is responsible for licensing marijuana dispensaries, registering patients and their caregivers, and overseeing a 14-member advisory committee, gets $882,400.

The board plans to spend $302,000 to hire four new people, and spend $521,700 to develop the patient registration system, develop the website, and upgrade the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System to allow for collection of medical marijuana information.

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