CLEVELAND — Monday, the board that controls Ohio's state budget approved a loan for $4,012,593 to help the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program.
The state has already taken in roughly $5 million in application and licensing fees from businesses getting into the industry as cultivators, processors and testing labs.
A Department of Commerce spokesperson said:
"There are two reasons we made the request. The state has had to defend the program against several lawsuits as the program has been stood up, so our legal expenses have exceeded anything we could have planned for. At the same time, we don’t collect license fees from the businesses in this industry until they become operational, and many of them have experienced business delays which have put serious pressures on our ability to collect the revenue we need to regulate this industry. The combination of these two factors put us in a position where we needed to request a loan from the state."
That means delays getting the program started has kept the Department of Commerce from getting the revenue they expected would allow them to oversee the program.
Those delays have been frustrating patients like Amanda for months. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2011 and has been waiting for legal medical marijuana for years. The prospect of being able to get her medicine legally has been a bright spot.
"It feels like there isn't a genuine effort to help the people that we know this medicine can help," said Amanda.
Labs that will eventually test the medical marijuana are being inspected this week to see if they're ready to open.
So far, only one dispensary has been approved to sell medical marijuana, once it's able to be tested in a lab.
Experts say that might happen in the end of 2018 or early 2019.