REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — Ohioans who want to start a medical marijuana business here urged regulators on Monday to issue the few lucrative cultivator licenses to Ohio residents only, at least initially.
As it stands now, the Ohio Department of Commerce plans to award up to 12 large grow licenses and 12 small grow licenses statewide, based on criteria including a company’s business plan, security measures and industry experience.
Proof that the company is headquartered in Ohio, owned by Ohioans and plans to hire in-state workers factor into the review but are not required.
Kelly Mottola, who owns Hydro Innovations in Hilliard, said out-of-state companies will want to bring out-of-state workers.
“We’re the ones who fought for this,” Mottola said during a public meeting about the proposed cultivator licensing process. “Allowing people from outside the state is not benefiting Ohio or Ohioans or our unemployment.”
Several people spoke in favor of a residency requirement Monday during the final public comment period on the cultivator rules. Others criticized the high cultivator fees, which would cost more than programs in all but two medical marijuana states, and the requirement that local officials approve of a business’ plan to locate there.
A panel of state lawmakers will meet in a few weeks to review the rules, which must be finalized by May 6.
Residency requirements have been part of several other states’ medical and recreational marijuana programs. For example, Colorado required licensees live in the state at least two years before applying for a license. Lawmakers there recently reduced the requirement to one year and allowed greater out-of-state investment.
Ohio has no such requirement for cultivators, processors or dispensary owners, but testing labs are limited to Ohio colleges and universities for the first year of the program.
Kevin Schmidt of the national