Several issues are jeopardizing the timely rollout of medical marijuana in Ohio. Lawsuits are pending, adjustments to legislation and fixes to the legislative audits may hold delay patient access. Governor John Kasich and Commerce Director Jacqueline Williams haven’t been on top of the issues.
Medical marijuana is supposed to be available to approved patients by September 8, 2018, according to Columbus Dispatch. One hurdle in the licensing process was determining that one consultant had a previous drug crime conviction. Some cultivators are now suing the State of Ohio suggesting that the application process is flawed and that some of the approved companies didn’t meet the necessary requirements.
Following this debacle, the Commerce Department did admit that some applications were, in fact, mishandled and at least one company that should have been approved was rejected. Due to that, the agency is looking into potentially creating an additional license specifically for that company sometime after September 8.
In light of this situation, Senator Bill Coley was prompted to introduce legislation (Senate Bill 264) requiring Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s office to audit the process for handling medical marijuana licenses prior to sales beginning.
Yost said, “What I think I’m seeing in the legislation is a serious crisis of confidence in the willingness and competence of the Department of Commerce to operate this program.”
Senator Coley agreed with Yost’s statement.
Coley said, “Right now, I think it’s a culmination of a lot of mistakes.”
If Senate Bill 264 is passed, Yost’s office would have just 30 days after taking effect to complete an audit. The Commerce Department would also be required to implement any recommendations made by Yost’s office. Coley is hoping to get the bill passed by the end of March.
Coley said, “I don’t think it has to delay the September start of the medical marijuana program.”
Yost doesn’t want to see delays happen either. One organization, National Cannabis Industry Association of Ohio, thinks that the move will delay things.
Thomas Rosenberger of the organization said, “Auditor Yost made clear in his letter to the Ohio Department of Ohio that he did not want to prolong patient suffering by putting Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program on hold while he completes his audit. Senate Bill 264 would do just that, by delaying the issuance of certificates of operation for months.”
Some are fine with a short delay, others are hoping that the audit will not delay things for patients needing access to medical marijuana in the state.
Coley said, “I hope my commerce director, I hope my governor can say we’ve made some mistakes. Let’s press the reset button.”
Some lawmakers, including Governor Kasich, have said that improvements to the program have been needed since the beginning.