Ohio Keeps Medical Marijuana Grow Applicants Secret

Ohio Keeps Medical Marijuana Grow Applicants Secret

Last year was a big year for marijuana with 4 more states choosing to legalize recreational marijuana and more states legalizing medical marijuana bringing the total up to 29 states with legal cannabis. One of these states that chose to end prohibition and legalize medical marijuana is Ohio. The state is working hard to create a large medical marijuana industry that will serve patients’ best interests. The huge task involves creating licenses for growers, distributors, producers and dispensaries as well as preparing and registering doctors who will be able to assess and recommend the plant to patients. The complex task is expected to take up to 18 months to complete.

12 Growers Licenses Available

The identities of applicants for Ohio growing licenses is being kept from the public.

Potential growers will have to apply with the Ohio Department of Commerce to be chosen as one of the 12 who will receive licenses to cultivate small scale marijuana farms. Various cities within the state have expressed opposing views on how they feel about medical marijuana being grown in their region. Some have outright banned marijuana cultivation, choosing not to participate in the industry or its potential rewards. Other cities have been named by interested parties as the potential location for their farm. For example, Johnstown is welcoming growers and Nature’s Apex has expressed a desire to set up a farm in Camp Washington.

Allowing Patients to Purchase from Other States

While the law legalizing medical marijuana in the state passed in 2016, it will not be available for purchase legally until September 2018, when the industry is estimated to be ready. However, patients will be allowed to buy the plant from other states where it has already been legalized. In this way, patients can receive the care they need while the industry takes the time it needs to have a solid infrastructure put into place.

Not a Matter of Public Record

attorney argues that ohio regulatuons need to be transparent for cannabis growers
An attorney for The Enquirer argues that the public have a right to transparency in Ohio cannabis regulatory processes.

According to the Cincinnati portion of USA Today, The Enquirer, looking to get an idea of who might be one of the 12 growers in the state and where they might choose to set up the farm, asked the Department of Commerce to release the names of the applicants. The Department refused, saying that they are not public record until they have been “utilized or relied” upon. Ohio Department of Commerce attorney Brian Peters wrote a letter to The Enquirer, stating that “the requested applications and cover sheets are not public records because the Department of Commerce has not yet used the documents.”

Darren Ford, attorney for The Enquirer, disagreed, saying that the law doesn’t support the Department’s position. “Transparency in the process of awarding growers’ licenses will be essential to promoting and maintaining public confidence in the State of Ohio’s regulatory oversight of the industry,” says Ford.

Until more progress has been made towards deciding on who will be receiving the cultivation licenses, it’s hard to know who applied and how much competition there was. It’s also a guess as to where marijuana cultivators will choose to set up their farms. At least the process has begun and, by the end of 2018, a new booming industry is expected to be created and running in Ohio.


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