Legal challenges expected after medical marijuana growers named


A dozen business owners are delighted by the state’s marijuana grower license awards announced this week but 97 others failed to make the cut and some are threatening to sue.

The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program on Friday released scoring results for all 109 applicants for Level 1 cultivation licenses: 73 failed to meet the minimum requirements and were disqualified from consideration; 36 scored 142 or higher on a scale from 100 to 200; 12 won provisional licenses.

Related: Springfield, Yellow Springs land large marijuana growing operations

“We do not accept the state of Ohio’s Level I Cultivation Application results and have begun a full-throated challenge of the selection process. Our legal experts have uncovered several fatal flaws and more are expected to be uncovered through discovery,” said Jimmy Gould, chief executive of CannAscend Ohio, which was disqualified.

Gould and his business partners were the primary drivers behind the 2015 failed statewide ballot issue to legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use.

Two companies were granted licenses to grow medical marijuana in the area, one near Springfield and one in Yellow Springs.

State employees and consultants conducted blind scoring of the applications, which were graded based on how they would handle operations, quality assurance, security and finances.

Losers will be notified of the state’s administrative appeals process, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce, which regulates the new industry alongside the state medical and pharmacy boards. Those not satisfied with the appeal can file lawsuits.

The large scale growers may have up to 25,000 square feet of cultivation while the 12 small scale growers can have up to 3,000 square feet.

Next, the state will start accepting applications for processor licenses on Dec. 4.

Related: Ohio announces first medical marijuana grower licenses

The state is reviewing 370 applications for up to 60 dispensary licenses. Private lab license applications are due Dec. 8, and processor license applications are due Dec. 15.

The entire program, which is expected to be funded by fees, is required to be fully operational by Sept. 8, 2018.

The Medical Marijuana Control Program is jointly managed by the commerce department, pharmacy board and state medical board. Regulators have been busy writing rules and guidelines for growers, processors, testing labs, dispensaries, patients and caregivers as well as reviewing and scoring applications for licenses.

The law stipulates that patients meet one of 21 conditions to be allowed to use medical marijuana. The law authorizes use by patients with 21 conditions, including cancer or chronic pain, in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing. Patients and their caregivers will be allowed to possess up to a 90-day supply. Smoking or home growing is barred.

Twenty-nine states have legalized medical use of marijuana and eight states have approved it for recreational use. Marijuana is still classified as a prohibited controlled substance under federal law with no recognized medical uses.

Staff Writers Michael Cooper, Will Garbe, Ed Richter, Josh Sweigart and Michael Cooper contributed reporting.