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Amid Questions, Lawmaker Calls For Halt To Medical Marijuana Program

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One of the state lawmakers who serves on the panel that approved Ohio's medical marijuana program wants to put it on hold until certain questions are answered. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles explains.

Republican Senator Bill Coley says he is surprised to learn one of the consultants that helped choose the companies awarded growing licenses was convicted of possessing and intending to traffic drugs 12 years ago. Coley sits on the Controlling Board, a legislative panel that gave approval for the program. And he says had he known about this consultant’s convictions, he wouldn’t have given his ok.

 

“I would have been unlikely to vote for that kind of person because we know every aspect of this program is going to be under a microscope.”

 

Coley wants to put the medical marijuana program on hold to answer questions – and possibly start it over.

“As much as I don’t want that to happen, we have to make sure the entire process is above reproach and we don’t want anyone being skeptical about what our final product is in this case.”

 

Republican Representative Larry Householder is echoing the call for the Ohio Department of Commerce, which oversees the program, to immediately freeze the issuance of medical marijuana growers’ licenses until Ohioans can be assured the process has not been tainted. The questions about the consultant were brought to light by Jimmy Gould, one of the backers of the failed 2015 ballot issue to legalize medical marijuana. He applied for a growing license but didn’t get one. Gould says the state was wrong to hire a consultant with a criminal past.

 

“It’s not ok to have agreed to pay a convicted drug dealer $150,000 for this.”

 

In a written statement, the Ohio Department of Commerce says all consulting companies met the standards provided within their contracts and adds anyone who didn’t receive a license has the right to appeal the decision.

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