Why Ohio's medical marijuana prices are so hard to figure – The Columbus Dispatch

Patrick Cooley   | The Columbus Dispatch

The Ohio State University’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center caused some consternation last month when it released the results of a survey that, among other things, estimated the average price of medical marijuana in Ohio at more than $18 per gram.

The Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association disputed their findings, claiming an average price under $11 per gram.

While the policy center’s figures weren’t wrong, they were misleading because most patients buy unprocessed flower, which is significantly cheaper than $18 per gram, said Jana Hrdinova, the center’s administrative director. 

The group revised its figures after acquiring more information from the Ohio Department of Commerce, which tracks medicinal marijuana sales.

This might seem like a trivial disagreement, but the back and forth represents an acute example of just how difficult it can be to calculate the prices patients pay at Ohio’s medical marijuana dispensaries.

Patients consistently list cost as one of the biggest barriers to acquiring medicinal cannabis in the Buckeye State. The requisite doctor’s recommendation alone costs as much as $200, and knowing dispensary prices ahead of time helps patients decide if it’s worth it, Hrdinova said.

“Should you go through the expense of getting a recommendation and then realize you can’t afford it?” she said.

But gauging cost isn’t as simple as comparing dispensary menus. 

“Those menus don’t reflect indigent discounts, veteran discounts, or individual sales,” said Caroline Henry, head of government relations for the medical marijuana company Buckeye Relief.

Between 10 to 20 % of Ohio’s medical marijuana dispensaries are running specials or promotions at any given time, she said.

And some products require fewer doses or last longer with a single dose, Hrdinova said.

When the drug policy center averaged the total sales in dollar figures and the total grams of marijuana sold, it lumped

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