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State Says Medical Marijuana Won't Be Available On The September 8 Launch Date

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Ohio Public Radio
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The Ohio Department of Commerce says medical marijuana won't be available by the September 8 deadline. 

The department says several cultivators have experienced inspection delays that make it impossible to have product on the shelves by the deadline. The department couldn't say exactly when sales will begin, other than as soon as possible. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles explains.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko has been pushing for medical marijuana for years. He says officials from the state agency that oversees the medical marijuana program have told him none of the cultivators licensed by the state are growing marijuana right now and only one is close to starting the process.

 

“To say I was angry is an understatement.”

 

The Ohio Department of Commerce, which oversees the state’s medical marijuana program, says there’s no way the September 8 deadline can be met. Spokeswoman Stephanie Gostomski says it was expected that the companies that had been given licenses to grow marijuana needed to be ready to start growing it in May.

 

“We thought we were going to have three. One inspection occurred. No certificates of operation have been issued at this time.”

 

Gostomski says the company that was inspected didn’t pass. So that business is making the changes prescribed by inspectors.

 

Yuko says he is furious because patients who want medical marijuana were counting on getting it in September. And now he says veterans suffering from PTSD, adults battling cancer and children experiencing massive seizures will have to wait with time they don’t have.

 

“To hold a child, Jo, to hold them in your arms. To have them have that seizure in your arms. To see the Mom and Dad living in fear, day in and day out, knowing that next seizure could cause brain damage or death. We had to do better. We should have done better. But we didn’t do better. And now, I can only hope and pray that someone wakes up and says ok, listen, what can we do to expedite this as quickly as possible and make this right.”

 

The Department of Commerce had said earlier this year that the medical marijuana program would still be operational on September 8, but only partially – not all growers, processors and dispensaries would be up and running at full strength. For her part, Gostomski says she can’t give a certain start date for the program.

 

“We do have two level 2’s that have expressed interest for their inspections in June and then we have seven more in July, five of which are our large cultivators. So we have nine inspections coming up in the coming weeks and if they receive their certificates of operations, all nine of those businesses can start cultivating their products and that’s when we can start to see products on the shelves in dispensaries in Ohio.”

The Statehouse News Bureau was founded in 1980 to provide educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations. To this day, the Bureau remains the only broadcast outlet dedicated to in-depth coverage of state government news and topics of statewide interest. The Bureau is funded througheTech Ohio, and is managed by ideastream. The reporters at the Bureau follow the concerns of the citizens and voters of Ohio, as well as the actions of the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, and other elected officials. We strive to cover statehouse news, government issues, Ohio politics, and concerns of business, culture and the arts with balance and fairness, and work to present diverse voices and points of view from the Statehouse and throughout Ohio. The three award-winning journalists at the bureau have more than 60 combined years of radio and television experience. They can be heard on National Public Radio and are regular contributors to Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. Every weekday, the Statehouse News Bureau produces in-depth news reports forOhio's public radio stations. Those stories are also available on this website, either on the front page or in our archives. Weekly, the Statehouse News Bureau produces a television show from our studios in the Statehouse. The State of Ohio is an unique blend of news, interviews, talk and analysis, and is broadcast on Ohio's public television stations. The Statehouse News Bureau also produces special programming throughout the year, including the Governor's annual State of the State address to the Ohio General Assembly and a five-part year-end review.
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