CINCINNATI – Making medical marijuana legal in Ohio will require breaking a few laws first.
The state’s medical cannabis growers face a curious – and perhaps risky — predicament: Where can they get their first seeds to launch their budding enterprises?
It’s a federal offense to bring in marijuana from other states. And, using marijuana sourced from illegal supplies already in the Buckeye state can carry its own risks, legal and otherwise.
“The underground market may not have totally reliable genetic material (for a medical program), and there is the inherent danger associated with the criminal element to consider,” said Morgan Fox, a spokesman with the Marijuana Policy Project, a D.C.-based nonprofit that researches and analyzes marijuana-related laws.
The conundrum – dubbed by some in the industry as the ‘first seed problem’ and ‘immaculate propagation’ – has surfaced in all of the nearly 30 states that have legal marijuana laws on the books.
Largely, regulators have taken a “look-the-other-way approach,” when it comes to where growers get their first seeds, Fox said. “It’s mostly a don’t ask, don’t tell situation.”
Only Pennsylvania has laws covering the issue – with rules requiring growers to get their initial seeds out of state. Seeds and clippings can be brought into grow facilities only during the first 30 days that a facility is declared operational.
In Ohio, the state is spending more than $6 million on a sophisticated system that regulators say will track every medical marijuana plant grown by state-licenses cultivators from seed to sale.
All but those first seeds, it appears.
There are no rules on the state’s books that regulate how cultivators can obtain their initial seedlings.
“Generally speaking, everyone stays very quiet,” said Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project. “Regulators basically