COLUMBUS, Ohio – At least 63 of the 146 companies that didn’t win medical marijuana cultivator licenses plan to appeal the state’s decision through an administrative hearing process.
The list of businesses seeking a hearing includes 47 companies that applied for a large-scale grow license and 16 companies that applied for a small-scale grow license.
The number could grow because the Ohio Department of Commerce staggered mailing notices to rejected applicants, and applicants have 30 days to respond.
The department then has 15 days to set a hearing date but can delay the hearing for weeks or months. There’s no timeline for when cases must be resolved.
Two hearings have already been held, a department spokeswoman said. The hearing officer has not yet given a recommendation in both cases.
The Department of Commerce issued 24 provisional cultivator licenses in November 2017 — 12 for up to 25,000 square feet of growing space and 12 for up to 3,000 square feet. Provisional licensees have nine months to meet all operating requirements set by the state.
Of the 185 applications submitted, 71 percent were disqualified. Reasons for disqualification included failing to pass a background check, not meeting minimum scores on certain sections or for failing to redact identifiable information.
Of the 68 appeals filed thus far, 54 were for disqualified applications. Five companies filed two appeals each, one per proposed cultivation site.
One losing company has filed suit against the state for awarding two grow licenses to lower-scoring companies that were majority owned or operated by a minority. PharmaCann Ohio LLC, which also filed an administrative appeal, argues Ohio’s law requiring 15 percent of marijuana business licensees be issued to minority applicants is unconstitutional.
Attorneys for the department argued in a court briefing that PharmaCann can’t bring the lawsuit until it