COLUMBUS — A lawsuit that could endanger the timeline for Ohio’s rollout of its fledgling medical marijuana program will forge ahead despite proposed legislation to give the state a chance to correct licensing flaws.
Would-be cultivators armed with provisional licenses “may have their shovels in the ground. That’s not our problem,” said Jimmy Gould, chief executive officer of CannAscend Ohio, an unsuccessful cultivator applicant and one of many plaintiffs in the Franklin County Common Pleas suit.
He was also a major player in the failed 2015 ballot issue that would have broadly legalized marijuana for recreational, medical, and commercial purposes.
CannAscend is involved in one of two lawsuits filed to date, in addition to 60 pending administrative appeals challenging the process used by the Department of Commerce in approving provisional licenses for 24 marijuana growing facilities.
A similar grading and scoring process is being used in considering processor and testing laboratory applications.
The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction to prevent the state from issuing final operating certificates to provisionally approved cultivators that are building their growing facilities. State law calls for Ohio’s medicinal cannabis program to be fully operational by Sept. 8, although Mr. Gould has raised doubts as to how firm that deadline is.
The lawsuit was announced in December, one day after Ohio announced winners of provisional licenses for larger cultivation sites. CannAscend wasn’t among them. The lawsuit was filed earlier this week.
Questions have been raised about Commerce’s used of someone with a criminal drug felony record as a consultant to help review and grade applications when such a person could not qualify for a license himself or work for someone with a license.
Scoring errors were subsequently discovered, at least one of which denied a license to an applicant that otherwise qualified.