COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Franklin County Common Pleas judge will decide next week whether to allow a large portion of Ohio’s medical marijuana program to continue. A lawsuit filed by one of the companies who was rejected for the program has called for a pause with all Level 1 cultivators, the large marijuana grow sites which make up the bulk of the program.
The company Ohio Releaf argued in court Friday the entire process the State of Ohio used to decide who could grow medical marijuana was flawed. It said some of the most qualified companies were rejected. The Ohio Department of Commerce, which is in charge of implementing the program, said Ohio Releaf’s application had several fatal flaws in it which prevented it from getting a license.
Ohio law requires medical marijuana to be available by September 8th.
“If there’s sort of pause in it it really puts September 8th at risk,” said Thomas Rosenberger with the National Cannabis Industry Association of Ohio. “Even if you have just a few weeks or a month delay in that you very well might not see any of the licensees on September 8th and we could have a delay of months to years depending on how all this litigation goes on.”
The courtroom was packed Friday with attorneys representing medical marijuana companies but also patients worried they may need to wait longer to get the medication they want.
“If the program is delayed that the patient care will be delayed and if patient care is delayed, their quality of life will be delayed,” said Ian Schwartz, who wants to use medical marijuana to treat his chronic pain from injuries he sustained in the military. “I’m absolutely anxious seeing the events here today unfold because if the program is delayed I know a lot of people who are prospective patients who will potentially be hurt by it.”
Ohio Releaf’s CEO Randy Smith said in court the state’s program is so far behind he would be surprised if any company has cannabis available by the end of the year. State lawmakers approved the cannabis program two years ago.