Officials urged to speed up Ohio pot rules
COLUMBUS — Ohio could still be a year and a half away from having its medical marijuana program up and running, prompting some to urge state regulators to speed up the writing of the rules under which the program will operate.
“It’s sort of the drudgery of state government. We have to let the process play out,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “As much as we’d like to push the pace, there doesn’t seem to be a desire among state regulators to do so. So we wait, and wait, and wait.”
As of Sept. 8, 2016, Ohio has legalized cannabis for medical use only. But patients are forbidden from growing their own, and it could be as late as Sept. 8, 2018, before the first cannabis oil, edible pot, patch, tincture, plant matter, or vapor may be sold at a licensed retail dispensary.
In the meantime, signs have popped up in the Toledo area advertising Ohio Medical “Marajuana” Cards that are legally suspect given cards can only be issued by the state of Ohio.
“Those cards are probably not worth the paper they’re printed on,” Mr. Marshall said. “It’s unfortunate, but not totally unexpected, to see people moving in to take advantage of this legal gray area in Ohio right now.”
The Department of Commerce has submitted its proposed rules for cannabis growers to the Common Sense Initiative, which is reviewing how they might affect business.
Those rules face the earliest of the deadlines for final approval — May 6 — so that they could be in place in time to have raw plant material ready to provide to labs for testing and for processors to produce the products to be sold when the program becomes fully operational no later than Sept. 8, 2018.
Commerce spokesman Kerry Francis said proposed rules for processors and testing laboratories will be rolled out in coming months. Those must be finalized by Sept. 8 this year.
Some of those behind House Bill 523, the law that legalized medical marijuana in Ohio, had predicted the rule-writing process could move quickly with a functional program in place well before the Sept. 8, 2018, deadline.
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy and State Medical Board have proposed their rules for the operation of the pharmacist-led retail dispensaries and for certifying physicians who could recommend their use for patients with qualifying diseases and conditions spelled out in the law.
Commerce’s rules for cultivators would allow for the issuance of licenses in advance of Sept. 8, 2018, for up to 24 geographically scattered sites to be determined later — 12 larger facilities with up to 25,000 square feet of growing space, and 12 smaller sites with up to 3,000 square feet. Beginning on Sept. 9, 2018, Commerce could award more licenses if it determines supply won’t meet demand, and those already issued licensees could seek approval to expand.
No one could own or hold an interest in more than one site at any given time.
Mr. Marshall praised Commerce for increasing the total number of licenses and potential square footage since it originally proposed rules last fall.
The larger facilities would pay a one-time application fee of $20,000 and an initial $180,000 license fee. Smaller sites would pay a $2,000 application and $18,000 initial licensing fees. After the first year, the annual license fees would be renewed at $200,000 and $20,000, respectively.
Pharmacy’s proposed rules would allow for the issuance before Sept. 8, 2018, of up to 40 provisional licenses for retail dispensaries. More could be licensed after that date to meet demand.
An applicant for a license would pay a one-time fee of $5,000. An operating license would cost $80,000 every two years.
The State Medical Board’s proposed rules spell out which physicians may or may not receive state certificates that allow them to issue cannabis recommendations to patients.
The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review will hold public hearings on the various proposed rules later this year.
Johnny created the website as a social-networking site and marketing platform for patients and businesses that he believes would benefit from a medical marijuana market.
“There’s been so much in-fighting over who will control it and who profits off it,” he said. “This will be such a massive industry in Ohio that there will be plenty of room for everyone. People who get licenses will become very rich. I’m not going to be licensed. I’m going to stay on the media side of this.”
He urged regulators to find some way to provide access to medical cannabis immediately, potentially through a partnership with Michigan.
Ohio law permits reciprocation agreements in which states recognize each other’s patient registration cards but only with states with programs similar to Ohio’s. Michigan allows smoking and home-growing of pot, both of which are prohibited in Ohio.
“They said they don’t want to allow smoking or home grow, but once you bring [the product] back to Ohio, you have to abide by Ohio guidelines,” Johnny said. “They need to come together and figure out how.”
Those interested in examining the rules and track the program’s evolution can do so at
Contact Jim Provance at: or 614-221-0496.
With medical marijuana being legal in Ohio only a short time away, many hopeful entrepreneurs, medical professionals & patients are still wondering how exactly this is going to allow them to get involved in this new budding industry.  We will try our best to document all of the available information here for those that are curious and want to get involved.
No business will be allowed to operate within 500 feet of a school, public playground, church, public park or public library. Certain criminal convictions are disqualifying for people wanting to grow marijuana. The Board of Pharmacy will issue licenses to medical marijuana retail dispensaries. Medical marijuana will be regulated by the Ohio State Pharmacy Board, State Medical Board and Department of Commerce. Businesses seeking to cultivate, process or test cannabis must apply with the Ohio Department of Commerce. An advisory board of 14 people from relevant backgrounds will recommend rules to regulating agencies. Local governments can limit and ban cannabis companies doing business in their jurisdiction, but will miss out on the economic development benefits. Banks, attorneys and other professional servicers have “Safe Harbor” so they can provide services to businesses and individuals working or seeking to work in Ohio’s new cannabis industry, ensuring they can not be arrested for helping cannabis companies. Doctors & Nurses:
Doctors will be required to complete at least two hours of training on diagnosing and treating conditions with marijuana. Physicians who are certified by the Ohio State Medical Association must first obtain a certificate from the Medical Board before issuing recommendation for treatment to their patients. Physicians may be disqualified for certification if they have a financial stake in growing marijuana, have lost their license to practice medicine or have been convicted of certain crimes. Employers & Employees:
Current legislation allows for employee termination for marijuana use ― even when it is recommended by a physician. People fired for medical cannabis use are not eligible for unemployment compensation. Ohio remains an at-will state.  
When Ohio Gov. John Kasich legalized medical marijuana in Ohio last week with his signature, Ohio has become the 26th state in the US to legalize a comprehensive medical cannabis program.
Here is a list of all qualifying conditions as of 6/18/2016:
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS/HIV) Alzheimer’s disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Cancer Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE, the degenerative disease most commonly found in football players and other athletes in contact sports) Crohn’s disease Epilepsy or another seizure disorder Fibromyalgia Glaucoma Hepatitis C Inflammatory bowel disease Multiple sclerosis Pain (either chronic and severe pain or intractable pain) Parkinson’s disease Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Sickle cell anemia Spinal cord disease or injury Tourette’s syndrome Traumatic brain injury (TBI) Ulcerative colitis Any other disease or condition added by the state medical board under section 4731.302 of the Revised Code
With little fanfare, Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday signed a law creating a strictly regulated medical marijuana program.
Kasich's communications team announced the signing without any comment, simply including it in a list with several other bills the governor also signed Wednesday.
The new law goes into effect 90 days after the bill is officially filed with the secretary of state, making the marijuana legal sometime in early September.
Read more here...
TOLDEO BLADE - A Cleveland-based company that has applied for a state license to grow medical marijuana won approval Thursday from the Toledo Plan Commission to build a 60,000-square-foot cultivation warehouse near Alexis Road and Suder Avenue.
Les Hollis, a consultant for Lake Erie Compassion Care, said the proposed facility would employ as many as 60 people, generating a $2.5 to $3 million annual payroll. It would be capable of producing up to $25 million to $30 million of wholesale medical marijuana a year, he said.
Compassion Care is among 185 firms competing for two dozen cultivation licenses, according an applicant list provided by the Ohio Department of Commerce. Licenses for growers are now expected to be announced in November, which has been delayed from September.
The project does not need zoning approval because the 27-acre parcel is zoned for industrial use, the zoning classification permitted for medical-marijuana grow operations.
Mr. Hollis said the facility would be equipped with security cameras to provide 24-hour surveillance of the warehouse and adjacent land and staffed with a security workforce.
The site of the proposed warehouse is at vacant land at Jason Street and Cassandra Drive.
Ohio-based Black Elk Biotech has awarded Ohio University (OU) a $1.85 million contract to examine therapeutic benefits generated from cannabis and other natural products.
Black Elk Biotech is a subsidiary of Black Elk, an Ohio company focused on products and medicines derived from fruits, trees, plants and other vegetation.
According to The Post – an independent student-run newspaper on the OU campus – the funding will bankroll research into natural treatments for various medical conditions.
The five-year study is slated to be conducted at OU’s Edison Biotechnology Institute, according to The Post. The institute’s director told the newspaper that researchers must first obtain state and federal licenses to study cannabis. The applications are pending.
To start, researchers plan to test the impact of plant extracts on cells. After that, researchers would conduct tests on living organisms such as mice. The researchers ultimately hope to perform tests on humans.
RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Medical marijuana cultivation, processing and sales could be coming to Richmond Town Square.
Ron Hudson, whose Mr. McGooz Cannabis Products has been working with the city of Richmond Heights on a plan to purchase the former Villa and Casa di Borally party center buildings on Chardon Road for conversion into a one-stop medical marijuana cultivation, processing and dispensing facility, spoke about a new plan at Tuesday's council Committee-of-the-Whole meeting.
"The courts are going to hold up the Borally building (sale) and we have no access to the building," Hudson told the committee. "Every (Borally) family member is in court. The lawyers believe they'll be litigation for at least two years."
With the sale of the buildings held up, Hudson and his team of backers have focused on the Richmond Town Square mall property.
"We want to build a brand new building at the mall," said Hudson, a Mayfield Heights resident and Marine veteran.
Following the meeting, Hudson said his company, now renamed AB Sellers Inc., wants to build a single-story, 10,000-square-foot building in the northeast corner of the mall lot. The space is mall-owned property used as overflow parking on the former Sears side of the mall.
"It's really a better location for us. We need a space to accommodate high traffic," Hudson said, predicting that if AB Sellers is granted a cultivation permit by the state of Ohio in June, the building will attract 2,500-3,000 customers per week.
Hudson said that constructing a new building will allow the company to build according to its needs and eliminate the modifications the di Borally buildings would have required. He is confident that his group will get a permit, as he added that state officials like the model of all three phases of the medical marijuana business being conducted under one roof, as he has proposed.
When asked if the mall lot would host a new, medical marijuana building, Richmond Town Square Manager Leisa Russell said, "We have no contract with (Hudson) yet."
Russell said Hudson contacted her late last week with the idea. Hudson has been working with Richmond Heights leaders, including its building department and police, in working out plans. He believes that not only would his business be well-served by a new building, but that it would help attract people to the struggling mall.
When Hudson addressed council at the committee meeting, Councilman Frank Lentine questioned the need to construct a new building in a city that already has several vacant buildings.
Hudson told council that the mall, since changes were recently made in permitted uses there, is zoned for his business. Other vacant buildings in Richmond Heights, he said, are not properly zoned.
Council President Eloise Henry, along with other council members and city officials, recently traveled to Michigan to see Hudson's operations there.
When asked her thoughts about a new building being constructed in the mall lot, Henry said, "I'm OK with it. I went to visit their facility in Detroit and and it was very professionally run and clean, like a medical facility.
"Our police chief (Gene Rowe) thinks it's a tip-top operation."
Henry said that the new building would be very close to her home's back yard.
"I believed in it when it was going to be (on Chardon Road), so I still have to believe in it when it's near my home," she said.
The city has been working with Hudson as its officials believe medical marijuana will be a source of needed revenues.
Hudson said that if AB Sellers is granted a permit in June that construction on the new building could begin in August, and be ready for business the following month.
In other Richmond Heights news:
-- Russell said that a new medium-to-fine-dining restaurant, Kevante's, will open at the mall June 1. It will occupy a currently vacant space. The space was formerly home to Sub City, a sports bar.
Council, on Tuesday, approved legislation granting Kevante's a liquor permit.
-- Economic Development Director Christel Best said the city received a $50,000 Cuyahoga County grant.
The money will be used to make improvements at the Kiwanis Lodge at Richmond Heights Community Park.
Best believes the money can only be used to upgrade the lodge's basement, which the city is attempting to use to attract more events.
The city, however, was recently denied a $150,000 Community Development Block Grant it had sought to add restrooms to the lodge's basement. The CDBG is issued through the county.
Best said the plan now is to upgrade the basement -- work that must be finished under the grant's rules by this fall -- attract more events, then re-apply for the restroom grants, showing that they are needed.
-- Council approved legislation that will have the city seek an Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Nature Works grant so that all four of the tennis courts can be repaired and resurfaced at the community park.
Recreation Director Ken Stray said that one of the courts will possibly be striped for use as a pickleball court.
The grant would cover 75 percent of the project's total cost. Stray said the project could cost between $18,000-$36,000.
-- Council approved a resolution that will be passed on to JCPenney executives, hoping to change their minds about closing the Richmond Town Square store, as was recently announced.
Russell informed council last week that JCPenney may be receptive to keeping open the store if the city and its residents were firmly behind doing so.
Elyria residents could see a medical marijuana dispensary in the future as City Council moves forward with Green Mile Enterprises.
The Council voted March 6 to endorse the first application for a medical marijuana dispensary.
Darrin Farrow, of Westlake and head of Green Mile Enterprises, plans to apply for licenses to grow, process and distribute medical marijuana to patients with qualifying conditions.
Although, companies don’t need the city’s approval to obtain a license, the endorsement from the city would increase Green Mile’s score on the state’s grading scale, Mayor Holly Brinda said.
A location for the potential dispensary has yet to be determined, Farrow said during the meeting.
“We have several locations we are considering that we will share at the next Council meeting,” said Farrow, which is March 20.
Brinda said the possibility of endorsing applicants is an important issue for officials and citizens.
“We are learning,” she said. “What we are learning is that some of this is a leap of faith. There isn’t a full body of evidence in all of these areas, but there is substantial evidence so much so that the state of Ohio took the leap in terms of legalizing it.”
Ward 7 Councilman Jack Cerra was concerned about how much revenue Elyria could see with a dispensary.
State taxing has not yet been decided, but the dispensary could bring in about $3.8 million a year to Elyria, according to Brinda.
Councilman Thomas Callahan raised the question of how a dispensary effects law enforcement.
“In the past, where your companies have done this in other states, has it caused any stress or any additional work on law enforcement?” Callahan asked.
There has been no additional work by law enforcement, but police are encouraged to be a part of the dispensary to know what is going on, Steve Paroby of Green Mile Enterprises said.
Police Chief Duane Whitely, once an opponent, said he did research by calling police departments in New York and Illinois to see how crime panned out after a dispensary was placed.
Whitely said he believes crime will not increase in Elyria due to a dispensary.
Eight of 11 Council members voted for the endorsement. Ward 1 Councilman Larry Tanner voted against the endorsement.
In mid-May, Green Mile will apply for its first license to cultivate, following will be a processor license and then the retail dispensary, according to Farrow.
“We anticipate all licenses and applications will be submitted to the city between May and September,” he said. “All licenses we assume will be awarded by the last quarter of this year.”
The city council has voted to ban medical marijuana in the city. 
The council's 5-0 vote Monday night follows a 4-0 vote in February by the city's planning commission to recommend an amendment to the city code that would prohibit the sale and cultivation of marijuana within city limits. 
Mayor William Duncan said, "We felt like it was important to have certainty that we did not want dispensaries of medical marijuana to be sold or dispensed. It does not affect anyone who has a valid use, a requirement for medical marijuana. That's still provided." 
Duncan said the city manager has spoken with area jurisdictions, through the manager's mayors and manager's association.
“Some are doing moratoriums to get ahead of the game. We decided to straight to a prohibition," the mayor said.
The state has not put together what we think are any kid of reasonable rules and regulations as of yet, he said. 
Oakwood's ordinance is part of the city's zoning laws, the mayor said, so future city councils can always go back and change the zoning rules. 
“And there's also a possibility that the federal government might intervene and rule that medical marijuana is constitutional... which might require us to change our ordinance," Duncan said.
What are the rules?
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy, one of three state agencies overseeing the medical marijuana program, posted proposed rules last month that call for a ban on vaporizing medical marijuana by patients under 18, a limit on oil flavors, and restrictions on marketing toward children.
The board of pharmacy is also proposing rules that define what constitutes a 90-day supply based on the THC content in different forms. Limits would include four to six ounces of plant material based on THC content, 40.5 grams of THC for oils for vaporizing, 19.8 grams of THC for trans-dermal patches and 9 grams of THC for edibles, oils and tinctures.
Louisville City Council Monday meeting
KEY ACTION Agreed to ban medical marijuana dispensaries from the city.
DISCUSSION Council cited findings that the dispensaries are public nuisances that may attract criminal conduct, increase noise, and attract individuals and groups engaged in criminal activity. Council also cited the dispensaries as being inconsistent with federal law. The first degree violation carries a $1,000 fine.
Smoking medical marijuana in a public area that prohibits smoking carries a $150 fine as a minor misdemeanor.
The measure receiver a vote of 3-2 with members Cheryle Casar and Bill Flory voting against.

Approved a resolution to urge state legislators to vote down a budget proposal to have the state collect local government taxes, withhold a portion for the service and distribute a lesser amount to the city than would be due from those paying directly to the city.
Gave final approval to ban feeding the waterfowl in Constitution Park due to the mess left by the geese.
Authorized the city manager to enter into contracts for installation of final clarifiers at the wasterwater treatment plant at a cost of $3.5 million. Two million will be paid by the Ohio Public Works Commission as an interest-free loan to be repaid over 30 years.
Adjourned to an executive session on a potential contract. No action followed.
  UP NEXT Meets at 6 p.m. March 20, followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. at Constitution Center 1022 W. Main St.