Ohio Medical Marijuana Programs Could be in Big Trouble
A lawsuit filed in March is seeking an injunction to ban Ohio’s commerce department from issuing certificates of operation to 12 businesses that have already received provisional licenses to grow weed in Ohio.
While Ohio’s medical marijuana program is mandated to go live by September 8, this lawsuit would prevent Level 1 growers, with operations up to 25,000 square feet, from having any cannabis on site until the state hears appeals from unsuccessful applicants who are contesting how the provisional licenses were awarded.
Ohio Releaf, the plaintiff and one of the 53 unsuccessful applicants, is requesting administrative hearings with the state commerce department, which awarded the licenses.
Jeff Lipps, Ohio Releaf’s attorney, told the court that his client would suffer irreparable harm if the state were allowed to proceed with the certification process because once the provisional licenses are certified they will “begin to evaporate’’ and “can never be retrieved,’’ reported Cincinnati.com.
Lipps’s point is well taken. Ohio has limited its issue of Level 1 licenses to 12 and the same for Level II licenses – growers with up to 3,000-square-foot operations.
Smaller growers are not included in the injunction and can proceed to certification although, on their own, they don’t have sufficient capacity to meet the anticipated needs of Ohio’s MMJ program.
Even though the law allows for additional licenses to be issued after September 8, the damage will have already been done, says Ohio Releaf’s CEO, Randy Smith, who told the judge last week that growers with certificates of operation would have a huge competitive advantage and insurmountable head start in bringing their product to market.
On average, it takes about 18 weeks to grow marijuana, but strains vary, Smith said. Then the cannabis must dry and cure for a month, be processed and shipped to dispensaries.
“I’ll be very surprised if the state of Ohio has medical marijuana by the end of the year,” Smith said, per Cleveland.com.
“All we want is our 119 hearing,’’ said Smith, who is also CEO of Arizona-based Pharm LLC, one of the largest marijuana farms in the U.S.
“Just give us our chance to prove that we belong in the Top 12.’’