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Ohio misses Sept. 8 deadline for medical marijuana program

Monday, September 10, 2018

Associated Press

COLUMBUS

While Ohio blew past the deadline Saturday for rolling out its medical marijuana program, the pot industry is confident greener days are coming soon.

It’s not uncommon for states’ marijuana programs to be delayed, sometimes for years, by legal, regulatory or logistical snags, said Tom Rosenberger, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association of Ohio.

“When you think about it, you’re starting the most regulated industry the state probably has from scratch,” he said. “So getting that right takes a little bit of time.”

Licensees will combine to invest more than $100 million in Ohio even before sales have begun, Rosenberger said.

The three offices that share responsibility for Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program – the Commerce Department and the state medical and pharmacy boards – say Ohio’s two-year implementation schedule was aggressive.

They emphasized the progress that’s been made, including certifying about 250 doctors and provisionally licensing 26 large and small growers, four testing labs, 40 processors and 56 dispensaries.

The state patient registry also is ready to go live when the time is right, said Tess Pollock, a spokeswoman for the state Medical Board.

Ohio native Jill Lamoureux, whose company Pure OH LLC has received a provisional small grower license, lives in Colorado and has been involved in the medical marijuana business since 2009. She said delays are to be expected.

“Ohio has done a good job,” she said.

Mel Kurtz, the owner of Grow Ohio Pharmaceuticals LLC, a large cultivator in central Ohio’s Muskingum County, also has had a positive experience. His facility was scheduled to be inspected this past week, and he expects to have marijuana available for processing as soon as December.

“As with any new venture, you have a substantial learning curve,” Kurtz said. “I think [Commerce] wanted to get it right. Measure three times and cut once.”

Still, some are frustrated. Parents of children with epilepsy, veterans with PTSD and other prospective medical marijuana patients have watched in frustration as neighboring Pennsylvania has gotten ahead of Ohio on implementation, said Rob Ryan of the Ohio Patient Network.