The medical cannabis program in Ohio has generated about $725 million in revenue, according to a local news report.
The figure was noted by local television station WKYC, which cited the state’s Department of Commerce Medical Marijuana Control Program.
Ohio lawmakers passed a measure legalizing medical cannabis in 2016, but sales did not begin until three years later.
“Ohio’s program has matured pretty quickly,” said Kate Nelson, regional general manager for Acreage Holdings, a cannabis operator, as quoted by WKYC. “I’m very impressed at how much it’s grown as far as patient access goes, recommending physicians and products available.”
The Buckeye State’s medical cannabis law covers a wide range of qualifying conditions: AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, Huntington’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, Spasticity, spinal cord disease or injury, terminal illness, Tourette syndrome, traumatic brain injury and ulcerative colitis.
Currently, there is an effort underway to add autism to that list of qualifying conditions.
A bill that would permit patients with autism to receive medical cannabis treatment was introduced by a Republican and Democrat in the Ohio state House, and passed out of the chamber earlier this month by a vote of 73-13.
“This bill is a direct result of the needs and wants of the people of Ohio who are on the autism spectrum,” said Democratic state House Representative Juanita Brent, a co-sponsor of the proposal. “It will help ensure legal access to a plant-based solution free from costly prescription medications or other outdated and sometimes harmful treatments.”
A different bill introduced by a Republican state senator would open up the medical cannabis program even more, allowing physicians to “recommend marijuana for treatment for any condition if the physician, in the physician’s sole discretion and medical opinion, finds either of the following: that the patient’s symptoms may reasonably be expected to be relieved from medical marijuana” and “that the patient may otherwise reasonably be expected to benefit from medical marijuana.”
Either bill would represent the most significant change to the state’s medical cannabis program since it launched.
Those aren’t the only cannabis reform efforts afoot in Ohio. A group called the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol spearheaded a petition effort in the hopes of forcing Ohio lawmakers to act on a legalization bill.
The group submitted roughly 136,000 verified signatures from registered voters in January, which under Ohio state law, triggered a four-month window for legislators to consider the proposal.
Republican lawmakers have thus far shown an unwillingness to take up the proposal, which brings the group to a Plan B scenario: after collecting another roughly 133,000 valid signatures or so, the legalization proposal could be brought to the Ohio ballot this November.
“We continue to be hopeful that the legislature will act on what we think is an issue that’s popular among Ohio voters,” said Tom Haren, a spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, as quoted by WKYC. “From our standpoint, it’s really about just recognizing the reality and about removing the criminal penalties for conduct that, you know, thousands of Ohioans are already engaging in.”
In February, Republican Matt Huffman, the president of the Ohio state Senate, did not mince words when asked about the proposal’s chances in his chamber.
“I don’t want anybody to misunderstand my position,” Huffman said. “I’m not going to bring it to the Senate floor. And if that means people want to go put it on the ballot, have at it.”