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Marty Schladen The Columbus Dispatch @martyschladen

An architect of Ohio’s medical marijuana law Friday accused Gov. John Kasich of intentionally torpedoing the state’s program, which is supposed to start in September.

The marijuana proponent, Jimmy Gould, is suing the state. But he also said he’s working along a parallel track to get a constitutional amendment allowing recreational marijuana on the ballot as soon as November.

In a wide-ranging press conference, Gould described his frustration with the Ohio Department of Commerce’s scoring of applications to grow medical marijuana. His company, CannAscend, was denied one of the provisional grow licenses and he’s suing, seeking to stop the state from issuing any final licenses.

State Auditor Dave Yost also has found what he believes are numerous, serious flaws in the process. And Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester, has introduced a bill that would require an audit of the process before contracts can be awarded.

Gould said he fought for the medical marijuana law against endless opposition from Kasich. He said he didn’t believe it was a coincidence that Kasich disliked the law and that its implementation has been problematic.

“The people in charge don’t want to see it work,” Gould said. “We shoved it down their throat.”

As his lawsuit proceeds, Gould also is researching ballot language to amend the Ohio Constitution to allow recreational marijuana. He said that could go on the ballot in November or in 2019 or 2020.

The Dispatch has contacted the governor’s office for comment.

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A medical marijuana advocate from Colorado is facing a felony drug charge after a traffic stop in Oklahoma that her attorney called unconstitutional.

Regina Nelson, 54 of Boulder faces one count of marijuana possession with intent to distribute, according to the McAlester News-Capital. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol arrested Nelson on Sunday near McAlester after a trooper reported finding marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle she was driving.

Nelson’s 24-year-old son, Bryan Elliott Laufenbert, of Katy, Texas, and fellow advocate Michael Browning, of Boulder, also face the drug selling charge. All three were released on $5,000 bond and have pleaded not guilty.

Court documents said Trooper Ashby Sutherland stopped the vehicle for failing to use a turn signal. Sutherland searched the vehicle and said he found four joints, 11 containers with what appeared to be cannabis leaves, oil capsules, hand cream, peanut butter and a digital scale.

Attorney Brecken Wagner of McAlester is representing Nelson and said he will file motions challenging the constitutionality of the “stop-and-search.” Wagner said Nelson was targeted for a Colorado license plate.

“My client experienced what many people experience for having the audacity for driving with an out-of-state plate,” Wagner said. “They tend to get pulled over and searched and harassed.”

Nelson had scheduled speaking engagements in Oklahoma, where voters can consider legalizing medical marijuana on a June 26 ballot. Nelson has authored books on the medical use of cannabis.

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What happens in Vegas really can stay in Vegas.

Tourists catching a flight out of Sin City can now dump their leftover legal marijuana in metal containers set up at the airport.

The 10 green bins dubbed “amnesty boxes” prevent federal transportation agents from finding pot on passengers during security screenings. The drug is legal in Nevada but still banned by the U.S. government.

The containers were installed last week following a county ban on marijuana possession and advertising at McCarran International Airport, aiming to keep it in compliance with federal law. They are bolted to the ground and designed so marijuana and prescription drugs can only be dropped in, not taken out.

“The amnesty boxes are offered as a way to help people comply with this ordinance,” airport spokeswoman Christine Crews said in an email.

Transportation Security Administration agents normally hand over marijuana-related cases to local law enforcement. Las Vegas police Officer Aden Ocampo-Gomez said no citations have been issued stemming from the airport’s ban on marijuana possession and advertising, passed in September.

The boxes are something travelers may have seen before — at least two airports in Colorado, where recreational marijuana is also legal, offer amnesty boxes.

But they’re likely to be a bigger draw at the Las Vegas airport, which saw 48.5 million passengers last year. Legal sales of recreational marijuana began in the state on July 1, and they have exceeded expectations.

That’s despite a ban on consuming it in public, including the Las Vegas Strip, hotels and casinos. Those 21 and older with a valid ID can buy up to an ounce of pot and use it only in private homes.

The airport boxes display Clark County’s ordinance and are clearly marked, with a black, bold font stating: “Disposal for Prescription and Recreational Drugs.” They

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Flood Warning issued February 22 at 3:34PM EST expiring February 23 at 6:42AM EST in effect for: Adams

Areal Flood Watch issued February 22 at 3:21PM EST expiring February 25 at 10:00AM EST in effect for: Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio, Ripley, Switzerland

Areal Flood Watch issued February 22 at 3:21PM EST expiring February 25 at 10:00AM EST in effect for: Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, Lewis, Mason, Owen, Pendleton, Robertson

Areal Flood Watch issued February 22 at 3:21PM EST expiring February 25 at 10:00AM EST in effect for: Fayette, Union, Wayne

Areal Flood Watch issued February 22 at 3:21PM EST expiring February 25 at 10:00AM EST in effect for: Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fairfield, Fayette, Hamilton, Highland, Hocking, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Warren

Areal Flood Warning issued February 22 at 12:54PM EST expiring February 22 at 5:00PM EST in effect for: Bracken, Mason, Pendleton, Robertson

Flood Warning issued February 22 at 12:53PM EST expiring February 22 at 8:53PM EST in effect for: Bracken, Lewis, Mason

Flood Warning issued February 22 at 12:53PM EST expiring February 22 at 8:53PM EST in effect for: Carroll, Gallatin

Flood Warning issued February 22 at 12:53PM EST expiring February 22 at 8:53PM EST in effect for: Adams, Brown

Flood Warning issued February 22 at 12:53PM EST expiring February 22 at 8:53PM EST in effect for: Clermont

Flood Warning issued February 22 at 12:53PM EST expiring February 22 at 8:53PM EST in effect for: Bracken, Campbell, Pendleton

Flood Warning issued February 22 at 12:53PM EST expiring February 22 at 8:53PM EST in effect for: Switzerland

Flood Warning issued February 22 at 12:48PM EST expiring February 23 at 12:48AM EST in effect for: Adams, Scioto

Flood Warning issued February 22 at 12:37PM EST expiring February 23 at 12:37AM EST in effect for: Clermont, Hamilton

Flood Warning issued February 22 at 12:37PM EST expiring February 23 at 12:37AM EST in effect

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A state lawmaker moved Thursday to force a thorough review of Ohio’s medical marijuana program because of mistakes in 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.

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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 be up and running by Sept. 8. Coley said his bill would not affect that timing.

“As a human endeavor, there’s going to be mistakes made,” he said. “The question in somebody’s character is what do you do when you find out about it.”

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.

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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. A message was left with the department Thursday seeking comment on Coley’s bill.

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

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sen. Bill Coley introduced a bill Wednesday that would freeze the award of final licenses to 24 medical marijuana growers while state auditors examine how license applications were reviewed and scored.

The Ohio Department of Commerce awarded provisional licenses to 24 companies in November. But licensees have nine months to obtain a final certificate of operation before growing marijuana plants.

Under Senate Bill 264, State Auditor Dave Yost would have 30 days to wrap up his office’s audit of the Ohio Department of Commerce’s procedures for reviewing and ranking marijuana business licenses. The department would then have 30 days to implement the audit’s recommendations or explain why it chose not to adopt changes.

“By doing this we can remove any clouds of suspicion or clouds of impropriety from the medical marijuana process and when that process starts up this fall, everyone can be assured that process was correct and done in the best interest of Ohio taxpayers and patients who are part of the system,” Coley, a Liberty Township Republican, said at a Thursday news conference.

Meanwhile, the department could not award final certificates of operation to medical marijuana cultivators, testing labs and processors that make marijuana products. The department could continue awarding provisional licenses to testing labs and processors, Coley said.

Thomas Rosenberger, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association of Ohio, said Coley’s bill would delay patient access by several months. Cultivators planned to get final licenses in mid-March, and a 60-day delay from the time the bill passes could push those awards back to June or July.

The first crop of plants could take 16 weeks or more to harvest, according to plans detailed in cultivator applications, and wouldn’t be ready in time for the medical marijuana law’s Sept. 8 deadline for the

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Despite scoring errors by an employee weighing applications and other hiccups, Ohio Auditor David Yost says it’s too late for the state to pause the process that awarded 24 businesses medicinal marijuana licenses

Hello all. It is, somehow, by some mysterious alignment of the stars, both National Margarita Day and National Chili Day. God help us all. If you need direction on where to go to get your downtown margarita on, well, my intrepid coworkers blazed that trail for you yesterday. Check out the story here.

On to news. Cincinnati Public Schools last night held another public forum on FC Cincinnati’s proposal that would swap land with the district so it can build a privately-financed $200 million soccer stadium on the current site of Stargel Stadium near Taft High School in the West End. The team would then build a new Stargel Stadium on vacant land south of the current stadium.

Last night’s meeting saw many of the same concerns raised by residents about displacement, rising rents, traffic, noise and other issues. We’ve covered those concerns in previous stories, including this week’s news feature. The meeting also saw some supporters of the team’s bid to build in the West End, something that hasn’t happened in past meetings. Read more in our story here.

• A national march organized by activists and survivors of the Parkland school shooting in Florida will get a local iteration. March for Our Lives, scheduled for March 24 in Washington, D.C., has seen a number of local versions pop up in cities across the country, including Cincinnati. The march seeks to pressure politicians

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COLUMBUS — A new bill would block Ohio’s award of final licenses for medical marijuana growing facilities, processors, and testers while it fixes flaws with the way it has scored applications.

OBJECTBut the bill, introduced by Sen. Bill Coley (R., West Chester), would not push back the Sept. 8 deadline set in law for the program to be in full operation.

“As a human endeavor, there’s going to be mistakes made …” Mr. Coley said. “The question in somebody’s character is what do you do when you find out about it.”

The bill would make it clear that the Department of Commerce may put its process on pause as state Auditor Dave Yost is given 30 days to complete his review of the process. Commerce would then have 30 days to make any fixes, including potentially going back and rescoring applications for which provisional licenses have already been issued.

The Department of Commerce’s licensing process has come under fire from multiple directions. Some of entities denied potentially lucrative licenses to grow the cannabis to fuel the fledgling industry have sued and threatened to go to the ballot this fall.

Someone with a criminal drug record was found to have participated as a consultant in reviewing and scoring applications for cultivator licenses. Unrelated scoring errors inadvertently cost a qualified applicant a license.

OBJECTAnd Mr. Yost, a Republican candidate for attorney general, has raised questions as to whether the sharing of software passwords may have compromised the integrity of the process.

Mr. Coley suggested the General Assembly should have played a bigger role in spelling out how such processes would work rather than leave it to government agencies to figure out.

“I think we made it pretty abundantly clear when we passed the law that no one who has

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COLUMBUS — A new bill would block Ohio’s award of final licenses for medical marijuana growing facilities, processors, and testers while it fixes flaws with the way it has scored applications.

Rep. Bill Coley (R-West Chester)

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But the bill, introduced by Sen. Bill Coley (R., West Chester), would not push back the Sept. 8 deadline set in law for the program to be in full operation.

“As a human endeavor, there’s going to be mistakes made …” Mr. Coley said. “The question in somebody’s character is what do you do when you find out about it.”

The bill would make it clear that the Department of Commerce may put its process on pause as State Auditor Dave Yost is given 30 days to complete his review of the process. Commerce would then have 30 days to make any fixes, including potentially going back and rescoring applications for which provisional licenses have already been issued.

Commerce’s licensing process has come under fire from multiple directions. Some of those denied potentially lucrative licenses to grow the cannabis to fuel the fledgling industry have sued and threatened to go to the ballot this fall.

Someone with a criminal drug record was found to have participated as a consultant in reviewing and scoring applications for cultivator licenses. Unrelated scoring errors inadvertently cost a qualified applicant a license.

Dave Yost

Enlarge

And Mr. Yost, a Republican candidate for attorney general, has raised questions as to whether the sharing of software passwords may have compromised the integrity of the process.

Mr. Coley suggested the General Assembly should have played a bigger role in spelling out how such processes would work rather than leave it to government agencies to figure out.

“I think we made it pretty abundantly clear,

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