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...
Up to 3 allowed in city to sell medical marijuana
TROY — The Law and Ordinance Committee of Troy City Council OK’d the city’s amended ordinance Tuesday to allow up to three medical marijuana dispensaries to be located in the B-4 Highway Business District.
The committee fielded comments and questions from community members and council members both in favor and against the medical marijuana access in the city of Troy.
Committee member Lynne Snee reminded those in attendance that the committee’s decision lies only to amend the zoning code before agreeing to positively recommend the ordinance to council as proposed. Chairman John Schweser and Bobby Phillips also OK’d the recommendation.
“It a decision to act on a state approved item and state approved use of medical marijuana and to make a decision that if a dispensary business decides to locate in Troy, we would have regulations on the books that would say you can locate within this zoning district,” Snee said. “I’m a little troubled that when I hear people say that we are deciding to have medical marijuana in Troy, because that’s not our decision. That’s an economic decision whether a business decides to go forward to pursue one of these state licenses.”
Snee said she is unsure if someone will decide to pay for the license and locate in Troy, but council’s decision is only to determine where one would be located if one was to open in the business highway district only.
Phillips concurred with Snee’s position. An emergency designation is not recommended on the issue.
Brock Heath, council member, spoke against the issue, noting he wasn’t against anyone legally accessing medical marijuana, he was concerned about the message the city was sending if they were to be allowed to operate in Troy.
“I just don’t understand the benefit having these in Troy, we are not limiting the ability to use it for health benefits. The last thing I want to see is someone who is hurt and not getting treatment, so please go get the the product and have it there, I just don’t see the benefit of the trade off to have these types of messages and stores next to Wal-mart. …,” Heath said.
According to reports, the Ohio Department of Commerce, State Board of Pharmacy and State Medical Board are working on guidelines to implement the medical marijuana bill, which was legalized last September. The Medical Marijuana.Ohio.Gov site held a public comment period regarding the dispensary rules, which closed Jan. 13.
According to the most recent reports regarding medical marijuana dispensaries, 40 licenses have been approved so far in the state.
Patients qualify if they have the following conditions: HIV/AIDS; Alzheimer’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); cancer; chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE); Crohn’s disease; epilepsy or another seizure disorder; fibromyalgia; glaucoma; hepatitis C; inflammatory bowel disease; multiple sclerosis; pain that is chronic, severe, and intractable; Parkinson’s disease; post traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spinal cord disease or injury; Tourette’s syndrome; traumatic brain injury; and ulcerative colitis. Individuals can petition the state medical board to add conditions.
On Dec. 14, the Troy Planning Commission voted to recommend to city council a citywide ban on cultivators and processors of medical marijuana and allow a maximum of three medical marijuana retail dispensaries in the B-4 Highway Service Business District only. The ordinance amends the city’s zoning code. The Planning Commission previously recommended up to five dispensaries, which council amended to three, and was then defeated.
On Nov. 21, Troy City Council failed to pass its complete ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, sending the ordinance back to the Troy Planning Commission for review.
Council voted to extended the moratorium on medical marijuana on Nov. 7. The second 180-day moratorium will expire July 13, 2017.
RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- The city has turned on the welcome sign for the medical marijuana industry.
At its meeting Tuesday evening, City Council unanimously voted to repeal a previous moratorium the city placed last year on the growing, processing and dispensing of medical marijuana in Richmond Heights. It is action that several local cities took in the aftermath of the state legislature voting to make medical marijuana use legal in June, 2016.
The law took effect in September and laws defining various aspects of it have begun to take shape.
Before its regular meeting Tuesday, a council Committee-of-the-Whole meeting was held to discuss the issue. Present was State Sen. Kenny Yuko, D-25, of Richmond Heights, who fought on the state level for the passage of medical marijuana use.
Yuko and Law Director Todd Hunt spoke of the the growing competition among local communities seeking additional revenues by seeking to attract the medical marijuana industry.
City Council members were told that cities that have been open to the idea and who not had passed a moratorium on medical marijuana business, are now getting offers from those wishing to do business in their cities.
"By repealing our moratorium, we  are saying we're in support of manufacturing and distributing and processing medical marijuana," said Councilman Donald O'Toole.
Applications statewide for those seeking to cultivate and process medical marijuana are due in May.
Yuko told council of how the city of Eastlake has been aggressively seeking businesses associated with medical marijuana, making available city-owned property for such use, in order to meet its financial needs.
A featured speaker at the committee meeting was lawyer Susan Bungard of the firm Walter, Haverfield, an expert on the topic of medical marijuana.
"I think this will be wonderful financially for cities," Bungard said.
Bungard told council members that the state is now proposing 24 sites across Ohio, up from the original 18, where marijuana can be cultivated. The largest permitted growing areas will measure 50,000 square feet, and the smallest, 3,000 square feet. All growing areas must be indoors for security purposes.
Doctors, she said, will be able to "recommend" marijuana use, in edible, patch and vaporized forms, but will not be permitted to prescribe it. Those who are recommended by a doctor will be able to get up to a 90-day supply.
"There are only 24 diagnoses now that would qualify for recommendation," Bungard said. "One of those conditions is chronic pain."
Chronic pain, she noted, can cover several maladies. More diagnoses can be added as time goes on.
"I'm very much for it," Councilman Jeremy Kumin said of the city getting into the competition for medical marijuana dollars. "I would like to see it anywhere in our city.
"We're a city seeking an identity and revenue," he said. "And, when recreational use is eventually approved, hopefully we'll have a leg up on that."
While Bungard said the state is making sure every step in the growth and selling of medical marijuana is meticulously regulated, there has yet to be an announcement as to the number of dispensaries to be permitted in the state.
Hunt noted that dispensaries would allow a city to make income tax dollars on its employees, but that sales taxes would largely go to the county.
"The real money is in cultivation and production," Kumin said.
Kumin recently undertook a study in which he surveyed mayors in from two cities each in New Jersey, Maine and Oregon where medical marijuana is permitted.
"I asked all the mayors if they would do it again (allow medical marijuana production and sales in their cities) and they all said yes," Kumin said. "They haven't had any problems with it at all."
Kumin is also hoping that having resident Yuko on board may also help Richmond Heights.
Hunt said those selling medical marijuana must have their own store and cannot sell it as part of another store, such as a Walgreen's. Medical marijuana could be sold anywhere within Richmond Heights, except properties zoned for office/industrial use, unless a zoning change were made.
O'Toole said he would be willing to make that zoning change in order to allow sales in office/industrial areas.
Further, O'Toole said he wouldn't mind if parts of the struggling Richmond Town Square mall was converted into a cultivation/processing site.
"I wouldn't mind if someone wanted to make (the former) Macy's building, all 160,000 square feet, into the largest cultivation/production site in the state."
Yuko lamented the fact that the federal government still lists marijuana as an illegal drug. Because of that fact, federal services, such as the U.S. Postal Service, cannot be used to ship medical marijuana. Further, those handling and shipping the substance and the money taken in from it, cannot possess guns for security purposes.
"Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals give us a vote of confidence that we're on the right track," Yuko said of opinions about medical marijuana use. "By 2018, it might be that every state in the country will be on board with medical marijuana. I don't know how the federal government can continue to deny this."
Eastlake Ohio Medical Marijuana facility topic of upcoming meeting
Eastlake City Council’s Finance Committee met on Jan. 3 to discuss the sale of the JFK property located at 33505 Curtis Blvd. to a company interesting in starting a Ohio medical marijuana cultivating facility.
The decision to do so is still in the committee and has not yet been sent on to City Council for consideration.
Eastlake Mayor Dennis Morley said he is aware that residents have questions and concerns regarding the possibility of a medical marijuana facility in the city and is encouraging residents to attend a public information meeting on the topic.
The meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 31 at City Hall in Council chambers, is for the purpose of addressing the questions and concerns of Eastlake residents.
In attendance will be Morley, along with other members of Eastlake’s administration; the investor in the potential cultivating business, Andy Rayburn of Big Game Capital; Brian Vicente, an attorney who specialized in medical marijuana; and the head of security for the potential business, former U.S. Secret Service Director Lewis Merletti.
Talk it out: Is Ohio on the right track for marijuana reform?
By Jackie Borchardt,
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio became the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana last June, but it could be more than a year before Ohioans will be able to legally buy it from a retail dispensary. 
Why the long wait? 
Ohio's law leaves most of the details, such as how many growers will be licensed and how doctors will qualify patients for the program, up to three state agencies. The Ohio Department of Commerce, State Board of Pharmacy and State Medical Board have begun work on the various pieces, which must undergo a rules-writing process that takes months. 
A statewide ballot initiative for recreational marijuana legalization hasn't materialized this year. But activists are trying to reduce criminal penalties for marijuana possession through local initiatives. 
Ohio's medical marijuana law allows patients with one of 20 qualifying medical conditions to buy and use marijuana if recommended by an Ohio-licensed physician. Smoking marijuana isn't allowed, nor is growing your own at home. The law took effect Sept. 8, 2016; all rules must be in place by September 2017, and the program must be fully operational by September 2018.
Here's a recap of what's happened so far: 
Draft licensing requirements and rules for cultivators and dispensaries and requirements for physicians were released and have received one public comment period. Until patients can register, the law provides an "affirmative defense" against prosecution for marijuana possession charges if the patient had approval from their doctor to use marijuana for a qualifying condition and was complying with other parts of the law.   Doctors have been reluctant to issue "affirmative defense" letters before official rules are in place.  About 30 percent of Ohio physicians said they would be likely to recommend marijuana, according to a medical board survey. More than 50 cities and villages have placed a temporary ban on marijuana businesses, typically six months, while they decide whether to limit the number or location of cultivators, dispensaries and testing labs in their communities. Some cities are already working with marijuana businesses in anticipation of the state rules. Is the state moving fast enough to implement Ohio's program? Are the draft rules thus far appropriate for regulating a federally illegal substance? Or will the regulations be to onerous for businesses that want to start here? Should local governments have a say in where marijuana businesses locate? Is recreational marijuana in Ohio's future?
Join us today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a civil, constructive conversation in the comments section below about Ohio's medical law and the future of marijuana reform here.  
Comments will be reviewed by a moderator before they are published. 
In our Talk it Out pre-curated conversation, comments are published after they are reviewed -- promptly -- to ensure they adhere to our community rules, which prohibit indecent, hateful, abusive or harassing comments, personal attacks, vulgar nicknames, personal information including telephone numbers and addresses, email addresses belonging to others, anything inciting criminal behavior and copyrighted material for which you do not own the rights.  
Comments that are not on the topic of this discussion will not be published. Criticism is fine, as long as it is respectful. We seek a robust and courteous discussion. 
Click here to see the comments
A majority of doctors in Ohio will be reluctant to recommend medical marijuana for their patients, according to the Medical Marijuana Physician Survey, a situation that could hamper the rollout of the state’s MMJ program.
Roughly 30% of the physicians who participated in an Ohio State Medical Board survey said they will not recommend medical marijuana as a treatment, and more than 40% said they are unlikely to recommend MMJ.
A dearth of doctors could limit the patient pool, which in turn could hamper MMJ sales.
Of the more than 3,000 doctors who responded, roughly 30% said they would be highly likely to recommend medical cannabis.
According to the survey, which was distributed to more than 46,000 registered physicians in September, 65% said more peer-reviewed research would make them more likely to recommend medical marijuana. However, it’s doubtful that such research will be forthcoming, considering cannabis is illegal on the federal level, Columbus Business First reported.
Ohio’s medical marijuana program is expected to be up and running in 2018, and state officials released draft regulations for its MMJ industry last week.
Proposed ordinance to allow three medical marijuana dispensaries only in the Highway Business District
By Melanie Yingst -
The Troy Planning Commission voted to recommend to city council a citywide ban on cultivators and processors of medical marijuana and allow a maximum of three medical marijuana retail dispensaries in the B-4 Highway Service Business District only on Wednesday.
Commission member Tom Force was not present at the meeting.
On Nov. 21, Troy City Council failed to pass its complete ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, sending the ordinance back to the Troy Planning Commission for review.
“One of the things I feel that came out of the meetings is that Planning Commission feels that zero (dispensaries) is too few and city council feels five is too many,” said Planning and Zoning Manager Tim Davis. Davis shared information he obtained at a planning conference last week regarding medical marijuana and its affect on municipalities.
Commission member Larry Wolke asked Davis if he had received any feedback from any potential pharmacies that may dispense medical marijuana. Davis said he had not, but learned at the conference many “big box” retail pharmacies will likely not dispense medical marijuana due to conflicting federal and state regulations.
Mayor Michael Beamish noted the ban of processing and cultivation of medical marijuana. “It’s always been about the number of dispensaries,” Beamish said.
Commission voted not to hold a public hearing on the issue at this time.
Director of Public Service and Safety Patrick Titterington noted that he observed council members reduce the number of zoning districts from three to one to keep medical marijuana away from neighborhoods and the downtown area. “It really segregates it, but still allows some limited dispensing,” Titterington said.
Wolke called the issue “an academic exercise.”
“I would dig in my heels a little harder, but in this case I’ll go along with the recommendation of staff,” Wolke said.
Council voted to extended the moratorium on medical marijuana on Nov. 7. The second 180-day moratorium will expire July 13, 2017.
Planning Commission’s previous recommendation was to allow up to five medical marijuana dispensaries to be located within city limits, with the exception of downtown Troy and where it violated zoning codes such as proximity to schools and churches.
Council member John Schweser modified the proposal to limit three dispensaries to be located in the business district. Brock Heath later modified that proposal to revert back to a complete ban of dispensaries. Council failed to pass the ban with a super majority vote.
Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews