COLUMBUS, Ohio — State regulators have set a November target for awarding medical marijuana cultivation licenses, causing concern Ohio’s new program will be delayed past its September 2018 deadline.
The Ohio Department of Commerce received 185 applications for 24 cultivator licenses statewide — 12 for small growers and 12 for large growers — in June.
Cultivator license applicants were expecting a decision about three months after the June 30 deadline, said Thomas Rosenberger, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association of Ohio. Pennsylvania took three months to review 177 applications for 12 medical marijuana grow/processing licenses earlier this year.
“The shortened window will add tremendous pressure to an already tight timeline for building out world class facilities and having the first crop of medical marijuana available by the September 2018 deadline,” Rosenberger said.
Rosenberger said it will be even more difficult for applicants that still must gain local zoning approval. Several cities and villages have said they’re awaiting state licensing before moving ahead with applicants.
Justin Hunt, chief operating officer for the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, said the department never gave an estimated date for licenses to be awarded and could announce winners earlier.
“We have the resources that we need, depending on the number of applications that came in,” Hunt said. “There were 185 of them so we’re moving as quickly as possible.”
Program officials plan to wait to accept applications for processors and dispensaries until after the cultivation license award winners are announced.
Licensees will have nine months to get established in accordance with state rules and regulations. Hunt said some cultivators could be up and running in four or five months.
Ohio law allows people with any of 21 medical conditions to buy and use marijuana if recommended to them by a physician. The law went into