Friday, February 23, 2018
A state lawmaker moved Thursday to force a thorough review of Ohio’s medical-marijuana program as questions pile up over its process for selecting grower applicants.
Republican Sen. Bill Coley, of Cincinnati, proposed legislation that would require State Auditor Dave Yost to conduct and release a performance audit of the program. The bill holds up grower, processor and tester licenses until program flaws can be addressed.
Ohio’s medical-marijuana law, passed in 2016, allows people with any of 21 medical conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy, to buy and use marijuana if a doctor recommends it. It doesn’t allow smoking.
The program was supposed to start by Sept. 8. Coley said his bill would not affect that timing.
The Ohio Department of Commerce acknowledged last week that a scoring error led to one company’s inadvertent exclusion from the list of the dozen big marijuana growers receiving provisional licenses.
The agency said it identified the mistake after Yost expressed concern that two employees had complete access to the scoring data.
The department offered to put the program on hold, but Yost said in a letter to the agency sent Wednesday that it’s too late for that. Spokeswoman Kerry Francis said Thursday that the department hadn’t yet seen the legislation so was unable to comment.
The acknowledged error in scoring has been accompanied by additional allegations of mistakes by others.
A lawsuit filed by some unsuccessful applicants earlier this week claims state regulators failed to follow their own rules when awarding provisional licenses for growing facilities late last year. Also, several groups allege various failures in the licensing process.