(WKBN) – On Tuesday in Columbus, the Senate’s General Government Committee — chaired by Mike Rulli — will hear testimony in opposition to Senate Bill 9, which will change how medical marijuana is regulated. While many people involved with medical marijuana agree that some laws need to be tweaked, one part they’re strongly opposed to is expanding the number of growers and dispensaries.
Daniel Kessler is the CEO of Riviera Creek, which has been growing medical marijuana for five years. Senate Bill 9 would more than double the marijuana grown in Ohio, and Kessler says there’s no need.
“At this point, this bill does way more damage than good,” Kessler said.
The number of medical marijuana patients in Ohio has leveled off at 160,000. Kessler was hoping for twice that. Riviera Creek currently has marijuana it can’t sell. Kessler says allowing for more growers would be bad for everyone.
“It doesn’t help the patient. It doesn’t help the industry at all. It doesn’t help the companies that have risked it all and put all this money into the market,” Kessler said.
“We don’t need more square footage. We do not need more processors. We need more patients,” said medical marijuana processor Peggy Hollenback.
Hollenback was part of a streamed news conference Monday morning in which the Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association opposed Senate Bill 9.
Hollenback says she has worked with doctors who didn’t know medical marijuana was legal because there are so many restrictions on how to educate and advertise.
“Most were saying yes, we believe in the capabilities of this medicine to help our patients but we don’t even know where to buy it because we can’t get that word out there,” Hollenback said.
What the association wants are additional qualifying conditions, elimination of a $50 annual fee, changing doctors’ exams from one to three years, eliminating all taxes, employment protections and the outlawing of certain hemp products.
Kessler also says to beware of too much marijuana because it could end up elsewhere.
“In some of these states, where you’ve had oversupply, product can go into the illegal market. That’s a very real thing,” Kessler said.
Senate Bill 9 still must be passed out of committee, approved by the Senate, then the House and signed by the governor. It has a long way to go before it becomes law.