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Medical marijuana ramp-up in Ohio sees progress, questions

The medical marijuana program Ohio’s set to launch later this year has been beset by questions.

Will growing operations be able to ramp up in time to meet initial demand? Will legal and administrative challenges tangle the rollout in red tape? Will enough doctors obtain certificates to serve needy patients?

Still, much progress has been made since Ohio became the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana in 2016 and set Sept. 8 of this year as the launch date.

Mark Hamlin, the Ohio Department of Commerce’s policy adviser on medical marijuana, acknowledges the process has been “bumpy.” But he said he hopes the public recognizes this is not just a short-term project.


Ohio officials award medical marijuana grow license to company affected by scoring error

The Ohio Department of Commerce on Tuesday issued a 25th provisional license to grow medical marijuana to a company that was incorrectly booted from the top-scoring companies because of a department scoring error. 

Illinois-based PharmaCann Ohio LLC received a provisional license to grow up to 25,000 square feet at a site in Buckeye Lake. PharmaCann policy director Jeremy Unruh said the company is looking forward to beginning construction on its Ohio grow facility. 

"It's an opportunity for us to deliver what we promised not just to the Department of Commerce or the patients or the state but the people of Buckeye Lake," Unruh said.


Ohio medical marijuana companies await judge's decision on whether to pause grow licenses

The decision of whether to halt a portion of Ohio's nascent medical marijuana program - which the state argues will delay cannabis from getting to sick patients - is now in Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye's hands.

Monday morning, at the end of a two-day hearing, Frye said his decision would come possibly later this week.


Ohio: Residents react to potential recreational marijuana initiative

A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio is one step closer to reality.

It could even been on ballots in 2019. 

For recreational marijuana to make it on ballots in 2019, supporters need to gather more than 300,000 signatures from 44 of Ohio's 88 counties. 

This is same movement failed on statewide ballots in 2015. 

"It obviously means there are a lot of people who want it to be legal. It might just be the people who would profit from growing it. I hope not!" said Joyce George a Dayton resident.

The proposed initiative would allow Ohioan's age 21 and older to posses, grow, use and sell marijuana. 

There isn't a maybe option on the ballot and that's where some residents stand. 


Another error found in Ohio's medical marijuana cultivator scoring process

A new error in how Ohio regulators scored applications to grow medical marijuana has surfaced, but the Ohio Department of Commerce says it will not affect the 24 provisional licenses it awarded in November. 

An ongoing audit of the scoring process by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost's office identified a discrepancy between the individual marks and final scores awarded on scoring rubrics for Ohio Clean Leaf LLC, which applied for sites in Dayton and Carroll. It chose the Dayton location after it was issued a provisional license in November for a smaller, level II grow site. 

The Department of Commerce, which oversees marijuana cultivators, processors and testing labs, acknowledged the discrepancy Monday but insisted the final scores awarded were accurate.


Ohio begins training its medical marijuana workforce

In September, Ohio will join 28 other states with comprehensive medical marijuana programs. The program has taken two years to get up and running, and still faces some challenges, but a group of educators in the state is working to make sure a trained workforce isn’t one of them. 

Glen Miller sits in the second row of his Horticulture 101 class, listening as his professor gives a lecture on plant biology. At 61, Miller took a buyout from his former employer—a telecommunications company—and decided instead of retiring, he’d enroll in a training program for a second career. A career in cannabis.

“I am interested in the horticultural side of it. So, I’d be interested in possibly getting a job at a grow house or a greenhouse, kinda be behind the scenes," Miller says.


Ohio students learning about medical marijuana industry

On Saturday, a Florida-based company held training courses in the Cleveland area for those who want to work in cannabis business once it's legalized.

Ohio is inching closer to getting its medical marijuana program up and running.

On Saturday, a Florida-based company held training courses in the Cleveland area for those who want to work in cannabis business once it’s legalized.

“I think that it has a lot of medical benefits and have seen the benefits in one of my friend’s child who has seizures,” said Lisa Fulton, student.

For some, medical marijuana means less pain, nausea or spasms. However, others admit their interests are purely academic and financial.


Ohio doctors can now apply for medical marijuana certification

Ohio is one step closer to getting its medical marijuana program operating by September. The state medical board has opened the online application to certify doctors, who will be the first point of contact for patients who qualify for medical marijuana.

So far, some 36 doctors across the state have applied to be certified to issue medical marijuana authorizations, according to spokesperson Tessie Pollack.

“What those physicians are going to do is meet that patient, evaluate and, say you actually do have one of the qualifying conditions, they’ll enter them into the computer systems,” Pollack says. “And then, eventually, when the entire program is operational, they’ll be able to go to a dispensary to determine what products to buy.”


Despite Ohio's medical marijuana industry's rocky start, job excitement grows

HempStaff, specializing in medical marijuana recruiting and dispensary training, is selling out on training classes nationwide for the burgeoning legal marijuana industry, and Cleveland is no exception.

But some experts say it may be too early to get excited. With just more than a dozen medical marijuana licenses recently awarded in Ohio and unsuccessful applicants filing lawsuits, it's going to take some time for state-licensed medical marijuana facilities to get growing.


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