State Sen. Sandra Williams of Cleveland
In light of the recent controversy and questions surrounding the medical marijuana cultivator license applications and those awarded, as well as the fairness of the selection process, it is important that the state of Ohio take the time to make sure that the organizations awarded were not given preferential consideration.
Even with Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine’s suggestion for the Ohio Department of Commerce to hire an independent third-party investigator to look into recent allegations, there are still legitimate concerns regarding the impartiality and transparency of these efforts.
Throughout the lengthy and costly application process, the Ohio Department of Commerce barred anyone with a felony drug conviction from applying for a medical marijuana cultivator license, and required background checks of everyone with at least 1 percent interest in a cultivation company.
But questions have been raised about one scorer, the owner and consultant of a cannabis consulting firm, who also, according to court records, pleaded guilty in 2005 to felony charges of possessing or manufacturing marijuana with intent to sell.
State Rep. Janine Boyd of Cleveland Heights
The state of Ohio should hold scorers to the same standard as applicants. If the vetting of the scorers is in question, there is reason to believe that the application selection process was poorly vetted.
The Department of Commerce also needs to explain the selection process for the inclusion of economically disadvantaged groups, as defined by the Ohio Revised Code — not just by checking a box on an application. ORC Section 3796.09 (C) says that not less than 15 percent of cultivator, processor, and laboratory licenses granted through the Department of Commerce shall go to entities owned and controlled by members of economically disadvantaged groups: blacks or African-Americans; American Indians; Hispanics or Latinos; and Asians.