OHIO — On November 30, 2017 the last of the 24 available licenses for growing marijuana intended for medical usage in Ohio were awarded. All together, 109 level I, large grower applications were received by the state, along with 76 level II, small grower applications. This resulted in $2,332,000 collected in application fees (separate from the annual licensing fees of $18,000 for small operations and $180,000 for large operations per approved grower). In addition, these potential growers submitted detailed business, operations, quality assurance, security and financial plans for review.
All of this was but one step towards the establishment of a medical marijuana program which state law requires to be operational by September 8 of this year. Now, however, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has cast doubt on the entire enterprise. In a guidance issued on January 4, Sessions rescinded the Obama-era approach that protected marijuana businesses from federal prosecution so long as they were in compliance with state laws. He has further indicated his intentions to prosecute these businesses in an effort to rollback the expansion of legal marijuana.
However, not all U.S. Attorney’s are onboard with Session’s new plans. As reported by public radio station WOSU, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Ben Glassman, does not intend to change his approach, stating that he will focus his office on where he can, “Make the biggest impact in reducing harm and promoting public safety.” Glassman also reportedly noted that, “The opioid epidemic is the public health and safety crisis of our lifetime. I’ve also pointed out the disturbing increase in stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, and the Attorney General’s made clear that he fully supports our efforts on these fronts.”
Glassman is not the only