May 29, 2018, Ohio
Ohio has passed a bill to legalize medical cannabis nearly one and a half years ago. But the state administration is still trying to streamline the program to make it work at its optimal level. A recent hiccup was faced by Ohio’s MMJ program when the state’s pharmacy board held up the announcement of licenses for medical cannabis dispensaries.
The administration has already made it clear that the delay in the announcement has nothing to do with the scores assigned to the applicants. There are some other missing pieces of information that must be evaluated before putting the final seal on the approved licenses. They are hoping to acquire this information by the next month. For instance, the board has yet to get the details of the distance of some of the proposed dispensary locations from community centers and schools.
Until then, the state has decided to issue provisional licenses so that the market doesn’t experience a sudden imbalance of supply and demand of medical cannabis. These temporary permits will be issued in the first week of the next month. It is important to note that the pharmacy board has to announce licenses for 56 new MMJ dispensaries in over 24 district and zones of the state.
The board members had to evaluate more than 350 applications to shortlist them to 56. It is undoubtedly a demanding task given that awarding of MMJ licenses has transformed into a legal fight in some other states. Therefore, due diligence has become very crucial for the regulators to prevent the revision of the whole process again following a court ruling.
Ohio’s MMJ Program: An Exception
It is worth noting that Ohio’s medical cannabis program is one of those few ones that haven’t been put into effect following a public ballot. In fact, Ohioans rejected the legalization of medical cannabis in 2015. However, one year after, the state’s legislature passed a Bill for the consumption of marijuana in non-smoking forms for 21 different qualifying medical conditions.
In addition, the law allows MMJ patients and their caregivers to store medications for up to 90 days. However, to possess MMJ supplies for this extended time period, there should be enough dispensaries in the state and that’s not the case at present.
Experts think that the pharmacy board has decided to delay the provision of MMJ dispensary licenses because the administration had already faced a legal crisis at the start of the year during the distribution of cultivation licenses. Some failed applicants alleged that the board had awarded licenses without due diligence, and under a conflict of interest. After inspecting all relevant aspects, the local court declared the procedure null and void. The case is now being contested in the state’ apex court.
In the light of this set precedent, Ohio’s pharmacy board doesn’t want to make their selection process controversial and hence they have delayed the awarding of MMJ dispensary licenses for a time being.
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