Medical cannabis patients in Ohio, for the most, seem to be happy with their state’s medical cannabis program, according to a recent Ohio State University study. There only seems to be one issue, prices. Many people are excited about legal access to cannabis until they make their first purchase. Legal cannabis can be expensive, even medical cannabis. Unlike other medicines, cannabis isn’t covered by insurance. This means patients pay 100% of their medical cannabis costs.
A lot of people would expect legal cannabis to cost less than it did on the black market. However, this isn’t the case unless you live in the right place. All too often, legal cannabis costs just as much as black-market cannabis; sometimes, it even costs more. Why is legal cannabis as expensive as it is? There are several answers to that question.
Fees associated with opening a cannabis business, compliance, and insurance, combined with profit margins and taxes as high as some THC levels, and you get expensive cannabis, especially when lawmakers put a market cap on the number of growers allowed in a state.
The price of cannabis is determined essentially by lawmakers. They determine that only x amount of grower licenses will be allowed or that an unlimited amount will be allowed. Oregon is a great example of no limitations on growers. The state of Oregon has some of the cheapest cannabis in the nation. This is great for patients but not so great for business owners looking to make a profit. Let’s explore the medical cannabis industry in Ohio.
Medical Cannabis in Ohio
Ohio legalized its medical cannabis program on September 8th of 2016, thanks to House Bill 523, according to the Ohio medical marijuana state website. Ohio was the 25th state in America to legalize medical cannabis. Prices for medical cannabis when the program became accessible were extremely high, with an average price of almost $17 per gram. Today medical cannabis patients in Ohio pay an average of $8.99 per gram.
This price was a drop of an estimated 17% over the last 12 months when patients were previously paying an average of $10.85 per gram for medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is big business, and it produces great amounts of revenue for states. According to the latest annual report, Ohio has pulled in an estimated $22 million in caregiver and patient fees, $46 million in licensing and application fees, and $64 million from local and state sales taxes, for a grand total of an estimated $132 million in collective revenue for the state of Ohio from medical cannabis.
The medical cannabis program in Ohio continues to expand, seeing growth of an estimated 44% over the last year. Current statistics show that there are 154,614 medical cannabis patients in Ohio as of August of this year. In order to become a medical cannabis patient in the state of Ohio, you must have at least one of 25 qualifying conditions. These are conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, aids, ALS, Crohn’s disease, IBS, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, and more. At an average of $9 a gram, that makes an ounce of cannabis flower run about $252 in the state of Ohio.
Some might say this encourages Ohioans to visit Michigan, where the price of cannabis is much lower. The reason cannabis prices are so much lower in Michigan is due to the number of people cultivating cannabis. Ohio has a cap on the number of cultivation licenses that it will issue, whereas Michigan does not. Let’s take a look at the difference this creates with legal access to cannabis.
Cannabis in Michigan
Cannabis in Michigan is much cheaper than it is in surrounding areas such as Ohio. Michigan has both recreational and medical cannabis programs. In the last year, Michigan has seen an estimated 48% decrease in the cost of medical cannabis and an estimated 44% drop in the price of recreational cannabis.
The average price for an ounce of medical cannabis in the state of Michigan is $110.72. Recreational cannabis averages $121.58 per ounce. Someone from Ohio could simply purchase an ounce of cannabis from the recreational market in Michigan and save $100! That is extremely tempting for most people, especially with financial times being as tough as they are and prices for the cost of living accelerating.
The cannabis industry in Michigan is facing a similar situation to that of the industry in Oregon. Cheap quality cannabis sounds like a dream, and it is if you’re the buyer. However, this has left dispensary owners, processors, and growers in a bit of a panic, as operation costs aren’t going down, only the prices of the finished product.
The Invisible Grey Lines of The Green Cannabis Industry
Cannabis legalization is a beautiful thing. All American citizens should have legal access to cannabis, not just some. Lawmakers didn’t decide to legalize cannabis because it would benefit the people. They are turning to cannabis legalization as a source of revenue, citing how much money it can bring into a state. They are also using cannabis legalization as a tool to show they support communities affected by the war on drugs.
Cannabis legalization is a crutch for the very individuals who have opposed it and wreaked havoc on American lives for decades, our political Representatives. Thanks to continued Federal cannabis prohibition, there are invisible lines that divide America’s freedoms. Medical cannabis patients can purchase cannabis legally in the state they live in. But in most cases, that’s it. Leave your home and travel out of state, and you lose your freedom and right to medical cannabis unless you are in a state that cares about medical cannabis patients and offers them reciprocity. There are over a dozen states that offer reciprocity or honor out-of-state medical cannabis cards.
Remember, currently, medical cannabis patients aren’t allowed to take cannabis across state lines because of federal law. When will silly laws like this change? When we, the people, make them change and not a day sooner. The election is coming. Push the issue of cannabis legalization with your local representatives.
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