Medical Marijuana: What Caused the Delay in Implementation and What's Next?

Read on below for an update on where the status for implementing Ohio's medical marijuana program currently stands.

September 8 had been set as the deadline for Ohio’s medical marijuana program to be fully operational. Yet more than two years after Ohio became the 26th state to legalize medical marijuana, no patients have been registered, no retail dispensaries have opened, and product might not be available until early 2019.

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    Why? Several factors have led to the delay, including the implementation of the oversight process for Ohio’s medical marijuana program; a longer-than-expected length of time spent reviewing and approving grow licenses; a higher-than-expected number of license applications submitted to the state Pharmacy Board; and other factors as detailed in this Cleveland.com article.

    So, what’s next?

    There is no new estimated start date for the state’s medical marijuana program. Ohio's Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee will meet today in Columbus to discuss matters further. That said, the first cultivators to pass inspection and begin growing expect that their first harvests will come between October and the end of 2018. Following those first harvests, the first retail dispensaries could open in January with a limited supply of product. The Commerce Department has scheduled a half dozen cultivator inspections for September with another two scheduled for October. There is an expectation that these operations could then begin growing quickly and catch up to those that have already begun growing.


    Election Day implications

    Gov. John Kasich is term-limited in 2018 and a new administration could bring additional changes to Ohio’s medical marijuana program. Further, both gubernatorial candidates,Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray, have said they would likely focus on fine-tuning the program as needed.


    As Ohio implements the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, GCP will continue to represent the business community’s interests in Columbus. See this website for regular updates.


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    Last year, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the launch of CyberOhio – a collection of cybersecurity initiatives aimed at helping Ohio’s businesses fight back against cyber-attacks.

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    COSE/GCP member, Tim Opsitnick, officially joined CyberOhio’s Advisory Board this week, a group composed of state industry experts and business leaders. The expert panel will provide guidance for Attorney General’s Office initiatives on cybersecurity.

    Mr. Opsitnick founded JURINNOV in 2000 and is at the forefront of practitioners addressing issues involved in the security and discovery of electronically stored information. The practice focuses on cybersecurity, data privacy, electronic discovery, and computer forensics.

    “I’m honored to be appointed to such a crucial initiative,” said Opsitnick. “Fighting back against this very real, constantly changing threat is critical and I’d like to thank Attorney General DeWine for allowing me to share my experience to help foster a stronger business environment here in Ohio.”

    CyberOhio’s mission is to provide the best legal, technical, and collaborative cybersecurity environment possible to help Ohio’s businesses thrive.

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    Governor John Kasich appointed Michael Stanek, vice president/CFO of Hunt Imaging in Berea and owner of Cleveland Cycle Tours, to a new panel that is being formed, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee.  The role of the assignment is to represent employers’ views as regulatory proceedings on medical marijuana take place in Ohio.  Stanek also serves as a GCP board member and as COSE board chair.

    Governor John Kasich appointed Michael Stanek, vice president/CFO of Hunt Imaging in Berea and owner of Cleveland Cycle Tours, to a new panel that is being formed, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee.  The role of the assignment is to represent employers’ views as regulatory proceedings on medical marijuana take place in Ohio.  Stanek also serves as a GCP board member and as COSE board chair.

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    Several months ago, Ohio elected officials pre-empted a campaign to place the legalization of medicinal marijuana on the ballot by approving legislation.  The legalization effort that was working to put their separate initiative – which was broader in scope – on the ballot discontinued operations.  The state legislation that passed technically made medical marijuana legal in Ohio on September 8, 2016.  However, the regulatory process that will set many of the rules still needs to be completed within two years; and, the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee may develop and submit recommendations to agencies related to the Medical Marijuana Control Program

    “I’m appreciative of the Governor’s trust in making this appointment,” said Stanek.  “Given the magnitude of the potential implications for business owners, their employees, and all Ohioans, I’m honored to serve employers in this role; I understand the importance and do not take this duty lightly.”

    GCP/COSE did not take a formal position on the medical marijuana legislation that is now Ohio law.  Our members instead sought to enhance employer rights and GCP/COSE worked to secure protections included in the legislation.  Those protections, for example, state employers can still establish and enforce drug testing, drug-free workplace, and zero-tolerance drug policies.

    In addition to this sole employer role, Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee membership will include members who represent:  pharmacists, physicians, local law enforcement. labor, mental health treatment; nurses, caregivers, patients, agriculture; the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction, and academic research.

    How should your business prepare for medical marijuana in Ohio?  Read more here.

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    In addition, GCP formally supported House Bill 5, language that would ultimately land in the current state budget bill.  The language would create a statutory definition of microbusiness in Ohio.  The proposal defines microbusiness as an independently owned and operated for-profit business entity, including any affiliates, located in Ohio and has fewer than 20 full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees.

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    For a copy of our letter to leadership in the Ohio General Assembly on microbusinesses click here. 

    The Senate’s budget bill is scheduled to be on the Senate floor for a vote on June 21.  After that vote, a conference committee will be named and it will have until the end of the month to work through the differences between the House and Senate budget bills.


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    But where is this market heading? What are current trends and where do they lead? And most importantly, how can your company capitalize? 

    Listen now.


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