A health authority in Oregon is poised to seek a $900 million pot-money fund that would allow it to pay for new marijuana-related care, including testing, cultivation, distribution and research.
The Oregon Health & Science University (OGST), which operates the state’s only dispensaries, said Wednesday it is in talks with the federal government about the funding.
The fund, which would cover the costs of the first 20 percent of the fund and the remainder of the money, would be set up to grow over time as more money comes in.
The health authority’s chief financial officer, Mike Krumm, said the money could be used to expand care for patients and staff, or to develop new treatments.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty with marijuana and we’re going to continue to pursue all the options available,” Krumman told a news conference Wednesday.
Krumm said the agency had not yet finalized a specific timeline for getting the funds.
Oregon officials said in May that they were preparing to seek federal funds for research into marijuana-based therapies.
The Oregon Medical Association, which represents the state medical association, has previously called for more research.
Earlier this month, the Oregon Health Care Agency (OHCA) said it would seek $500 million from the state to support research into the use of marijuana.
The state’s Medicaid program is among the programs receiving funding from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The agency said its proposed funding would cover all costs for the first 40 percent of a proposed pot-fund that would be earmarked for research, and then another 40 percent for a second pot-funding fund to be created over time.
The money would come from two sources: $500 per patient per year, or $20 per patient for the next five years, and $1 million per year for a third pot-investment fund that the state could use to finance new treatments or for the development of new products.
“This fund would provide a new pathway for our state’s cannabis economy to grow and prosper, enabling Oregonians to access the full benefits of the state-licensed medical cannabis industry,” OHSU’s chief executive officer and president, David Krummel, said in a statement.
Oregon Health & Sci University, which has the state of Oregon’s only medical marijuana dispensaries, says its patients have been able to access marijuana since 2009 and expects to see the number of patients grow.
The university said it is not currently planning to expand its dispensary network beyond its existing 20-beds.