A black marijuana leaf with a medical symbol in the middle

You’re busy and don’t have time to look up the details on Ohio’s new medical marijuana program. We’re here to help with, well, a cheat sheet. You know, that quick fine print synopsis hidden under your sleeve. Destruct once done. Let’s apply the concept to a quick update of the program thus far. Just the facts, ma’am.

Basics. On 5/26/16, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 523, source of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. The governor signed the bill on 6/8/16, making it effective on 9/8/16. The mandated rules, found in sections 3796 and 4731 of the Ohio Revised Code, were put in place on 9/8/17. The program must be fully operational by 9/8/18.

Regulation involves three state agencies: Ohio Department of Commerce (cultivators, processors and testers), Ohio Board of Pharmacy (dispensaries) and the State Medical Board of Ohio (physicians who recommend medical marijuana to patients).

Cultivation. Cannabis cultivation comprises Level I – with up to 25,000 square feet of growing space, and Level II with up to 3,000 square feet. Licensees may expand up to 75,000 and 9,000 square feet respectively. Prior to 9/9/18, the Department can award 12 cultivator licenses for each level.  After that, licenses may be added per patient demand. Cultivation rules went into effect on 5/6/17, with applications due for Level II on 6/16/17 and Level I on 6/30/17. The Department received 185: 109 for Level I and 76 for Level II. It engaged 22 State of Ohio employees and three consultants to score applications and determine winners.

Level II licensees, announced on 11/2/17 by score: Fire Rock Ltd. (Franklin County); Fire Rock Ltd. (Stark); Fire Rock Ltd. (Summit); FN Group Holdings LLC (Portage); Mother Grows Best LLC (Stark); OhiGrow LLC (Lucas); Ancient Roots LLC (Clinton); Ohio Clean Leaf LLC (Montgomery); Ohio Clean Leaf LLC (Fairfield); Ascension BioMedical LLC (Lorain); Agri-Med Ohio LLC (Meigs); Paragon Development Group LLC (Montgomery); Hemma LLC (Butler); Galenas LLC (Summit); and Farkas Farms LLC (Lorain).

Level I licensees, announced on 11/30/17 by score: Buckeye Relief LLC (Lake County); Grow Ohio Pharmaceuticals LLC (Muskingum); OPC Cultivation LLC (Erie); Riviera Creek Holdings LLC (Mahoning); Pure Ohio Wellness LLC (Clark); Columbia Care OH LLC (Brown); Terradiol Ohio LLC (Stark); Standard Wellness Company LLC (Sandusky); AT-CPC of Ohio LLC (Summit); Cresco Labs Ohio LLC (Greene); Parma Wellness Center LLC (Cuyahoga); Harvest Grows LLC (Lawrence); and Harvest Grows LLC (Cuyahoga).

Several companies submitted multiple applications, but will only receive one provisional license. Preferential consideration for African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics and Asians – mandated in HB 523 – factored into some selections. Denied a Level I license, PharmaCann Ohio, Inc. sued the Department on 12/13/17 over the constitutionality of racial quotas.

Scoring results also labeled 73 Level I applications and 61 Level II applications “disqualified.” The Associated Press reported on 1/20/18 that 47 disqualified applicants for Level 1 and 16 for Level II filed appeals with the Department of Commerce.

Processing: Processors “manufacture medical marijuana products” such as oils. The Department received 104 applications by 12/15/17. It can award up to 40 provisional licenses, which as of this writing have yet to be announced.

Testing: On 9/22/17, the Department accepted laboratory testing applications from two public universities, Central State University and Hocking College. The application window for privately-held companies, 11/27/17 to 12/8/17, garnered seven applications including one from Battelle Memorial Institute. There are no limits on the number of laboratory testing licenses.

Dispensaries: Operated by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, dispensaries are retail establishments that sell defined forms and quantities of marijuana to registered patients. Ohio’s dispensaries fall into four districts: Northeast (18), Northwest (10), Southeast (17) and Southwest (15). Up to 60 provisional licenses will be awarded from the 370 applications received by 11/17/17.

Physicians: Only physicians certified by the Medical Board of Ohio can recommend marijuana to patients who have been diagnosed one of 21 qualifying medical conditions. To recommend, physicians must complete at least two hours of continuing medical education that concerns diagnosing patients and treating them with medical marijuana. Extra Step Assurance, LLC (Cannabis Expertise),, and the Medical Cannabis Institute have been certified by the board to offer this training. The Medical Board claims that certificates to recommend will begin to be issued in Spring 2018 via the state’s online eLicense portal. When physicians can recommend, the program can begin.

Finally, on its home page, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program clearly states, “… no patient identification cards are being issued by the state of Ohio's Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) at this time. The only valid state ID cards will be issued by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy once the state's patient registry becomes available no later than September 2018.”

So there you have it. A quick cheat sheet synopsis of Ohio’s medical marijuana program. Roll it up and smoke it! Oops! Smoked marijuana is illegal under HB 523.

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