Ohio awards $1 million contract for medical marijuana help line

State regulators awarded a $1 million, three-year contract this week to a New Jersey-based company to operate a toll-free help line for patients, caregivers and doctors accessing Ohio's new medical marijuana program. 

Direct Success Inc.'s Ohio subsidiary Extra Step Assurance will operate the help line from a call center in Bellefontaine. The call center opened in February 2017 and has since been operating a national toll-free medical marijuana help line.

Direct Success CEO Cheryl McDaniel said the center offers fact-based information but does not give medical or legal advice. McDaniel said the company has pharmacists on call 24/7 to answer questions about drug interactions.


Let science drive marijuana policy - not superstition

Anyone who gets a prescription for medical marijuana is welcome to use it in West Chester Township. But the township does not welcome businesses associated with the producing marijuana.

Earlier this month, The Enquirer featured two letters to the editor that were very critical of the legalization of marijuana. One suggested marijuana use caused a fatal accident, and the other concerned marijuana being a gateway drug. I am no expert, but I thought I would share my research.


What's next for marijuana policy in Ohio?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions threw a wrench into legalized marijuana systems in Ohio and other states last week when he repealed an Obama-era policy of leaving law-abiding marijuana businesses alone in those states. 

Or did he? 

Ohio medical marijuana program officials said they plan to move forward with setting up the regulated industry of growers, processors, testing labs and dispensaries before September. And the U.S. attorney for Ohio's Southern District indicated his office won't change how it chooses to prosecute drug crimes and its focus on opioids. 


What does Jeff Sessions' new marijuana policy mean for Ohio?

Ohio's fledgling medical marijuana program won't immediately be affected by a new federal marijuana enforcement policy announced Thursday by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Ohio regulators are moving ahead with establishing the program, and state medical marijuana programs are still protected by a federal budget amendment preventing the Department of Justice from spending money on enforcement in those states.

But industry players and experts said the policy change will generate more confusion and uncertainty about whether it's legal to grow, sell and buy marijuana in Ohio and 28 other states while the drug remains illegal federally. And the move puts pressure on Congress to keep in place what's become a $16 billion industry, according to one industry researcher. 


You can now get a degree in marijuana, so it's time to deal with the lives ruined by weed convictions

As you almost certainly are aware, more states are further legalizing medical and recreational marijuana in recent years, with some cities even decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of weed, all of which means that the plant is starting to be treated with some respect — finally.

More research is being done about topics like what marijuana does to kids’ development and whether or not breastfeeding moms should be able to vape — and one university in Michigan is offering a full-on, four-year bachelor’s degree in all things having to do with the farming, marketing, and sale of weed. So now that you can get a degree in marijuana, what do we do about the fact that, legally, weed is still seriously ruining a lot of people’s lives?


Could recreational marijuana soon be legal in Ohio?

Ohio’s medical marijuana program will go into effect in about 10 months. But already there’s a push to make all marijuana legal across the board.

Ohioans have heard this once before: A constitutional amendment to give voters a chance to approve marijuana use, both medical and recreational.

But this time, the man behind it is promising to fix the issue that had even pot supporters fired up when the last amendment came up for a vote.

Jimmy Gould of Green Light Acquisitions, LLC, will propose making marijuana legal for all adults in Ohio. Details are expected to be revealed at a Monday morning news conference.


Could local lawsuit delay Ohio's medical pot plans?

Just as Ohio is learning who its first medial marijuana growers may be, a local firm is threatening legal actions that could delay the state's legal pot plans.

Downtown-based CannAscend is among dozens of firms that applied and were denied a license by Ohio to grow medical marijuana, an announcement made Thursday.  More than 100 firms filed applications for just 24 licenses made available across Ohio.

CannAscend said it's planning to file a lawsuit against the state for what it calls a "flawed" grading process used to award licenses. Among other allegations, the firm claims:


No guns: Ohio's medical marijuana users won't be able to have firearms

People who register with the state of Ohio to legally use medical marijuana will be prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law, according to guidance released by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

In an open letter to federally licensed firearms dealers, the ATF advised in 2011 that marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law so any use of the drug is unlawful, and gun dealers are prohibited from providing guns or ammo to anyone they have cause to believe uses pot.

“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such is sanctioned by state law,” the memo says.


Ohio just announced who can grow medical cannabis — here's the list

A participant practices rolling a joint at the Cannabis Carnivalus 4/20 event in Seattle Thomson Reuters

The tiny village of Mount Orab and the city of Akron are among diverse locations of the 12 large growers Ohio picked Thursday to participate in its medical marijuana program.

In announcing the large cultivators and a final small grower, the state rounded out the list of 24 companies authorized to produce medicinal crops under a new system expected to go live by September. Ohio is the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana.

Large growers paid $20,000 to apply to operate sites up to 25,000 square feet. Initial license fees were $180,000 and renewals will cost $200,000 annually.


Anticipating medical marijuana's arrival in Ohio, police turn to Colorado for help

Ohio police departments are learning how to interpret the law and medical marijuana in the new year.

So they are turning to experts from Colorado for direction on arrests, cases and how to handle the drug in the field.

Blue Ash Police Chief Paul Hartinger said medical marijuana presents a new era for law enforcement and that's why he wants to make sure his officers are ready.

"I think it's imperative to keep my officers up to speed, every day, every month, every week, whatever it is," Hartinger said.

Hartinger is big on training and now his focus is shifting to medical marijuana.

"What are the things that I need to know on the streets so that I do my job well and do it right but still enforce the laws that are on the books?" Hartinger said.


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