Study concludes that Ohio’s medical cannabis program is way too expensive


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A new study focused on Ohio’s medical cannabis program indicates that patients are unsatisfied with the cost of plant-based medicines across the state. Carried out by a group of researchers at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, the study claims that the program is “not fully operational, creating concerns around persistent delays and the overall functionality of the program.”

Ohio’s medical cannabis program officially launched in January 2019. Now, as the industry matures, the unfortunate truth has surfaced more than 60 percent of state residents are unhappy with the program. While perceptions may have improved slightly since last year, OSU’s study shows that there is plenty of room for improvement.

Key takeaways from the Ohio State University study

Market constraints are posing a serious problem for Ohio’s medical cannabis program, with a handful of state-licensed companies urging officials to expand cultivation operations and license more dispensaries. Analyst projections for the market as outlined in a recent edition of the Marijuana Business Factbook pinned Ohio’s medical cannabis sales in the range of $175 million-$225 million this year. 

Based on the findings published in the OSU cannabis study, sales forecasts and developments for Ohio’s medical cannabis program fall far behind nearby Pennsylvania’s. Predictions featured in the Marijuana Business Factbook suggest that Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis sales will top $400 million-$500 million this year  the state legalized cannabis for medical purposes in 2016, before opening its first dispensary two years later.

Aside from the fact that Ohio is noticeably trailing behind Pennsylvania, the OSU cannabis study also drew attention to a preference for Michigan’s newly-launched adult-use cannabis market among Ohioans; since recreational sales kicked off in December 2019, many Ohians have been crossing the border to purchase cheaper products.

Some more findings from the OSU cannabis study are as follows:

  • 61.6 percent of study respondents claim that they were somewhat or extremely dissatisfied with Ohio’s medical cannabis program;
  • 86.1 percent of study respondents had been diagnosed with a qualifying condition for medical cannabis;
  • 51.5 percent of qualifying patients use medical cannabis in Ohio excessive pricing and employment-related concerns deterred the majority from enrolling for plant-based medicines.

Number of patients purchasing Ohio medical cannabis soars to 103,632

In spite of the fact that patients are displeased with the cost of medical cannabis in Ohio, state dispensaries still managed to see a 3.4 percent increase in transactions between the months of July and August. 

Data published on the official Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program website indicated that 103,642 patients had registered for and purchased legal weed in the state this August. Furthermore, as of August 17, 21,340 pounds of plant material had been sold; demonstrating 16 percent growth since mid-July. Medical cannabis sales in Ohio climbed 16 percent between July 17 and August 17 to $176.1 million.

Notwithstanding the sales increases, August’s patient sales figures for medical cannabis in Ohio constitute a mere one percent of the state’s population approximately 11.7 million. The meager figures are likely a result of the program’s slow rollout, what with the first dispensary opening three years after the Ohio General Assembly passed a legal medical cannabis law in 2016.

Although Ohio’s medical cannabis program is now active, numerous elements of it are still under construction. For example, just 11 of the 19 provisional cannabis cultivation license holders have been awarded certificates of operation; 12 of 14 small-scale cultivators are currently serving the market; 51 of 57 dispensaries have received certificates of operation; 23 of 48 product processors are in possession of certificates of operation; three of six quality and potency testers have obtained certificates of operation.