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Former Ohio Football Players Get Into The Medical Marijuana Game

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Troy Smith, who played for Ohio State before going into the NFL, is applying for a medical marijuana dispensary license.

Brain injuries are among the conditions for which Ohio has approved the use of medical marijuana. And a group of investors with strong ties to high school, college and pro football in the state is among those applying for a license to dispense the drug.

Ohio is awarding 60 dispensary licenses later this year, and one group likely to apply includes Ted Ginn Sr., long-time football coach at Glenville High School, Troy Smith, a former Ohio State University quarterback and Heisman trophy winner, and former Cleveland Brown Eric Metcalf.

The group is looking at sites in South Euclid, Cleveland, Warrensville Heights and Lakewood and is partnering with James Buchanan, a Seattle-native who has spent much of the past two decades working in Cleveland’s music business. He says his partners are very interested in a specific way medicinal marijuana can help athletes.

"Troy Smith and Eric [Metcalf] have expressed how they -- especially Troy -- regarding collisions and [the] physical aspect of the medicine that he feels it will be phenomenal for it,” Buchanan says.

One of the 20 conditions for which the state has approved medical marijuana is traumatic brain injury. (See the complete list below.)

Smith was arrested in 2016for marijuana possession and driving under the influence, but reached a plea deal and did not serve jail time.

Buchanan adds that Ginn is interested in the educational aspect of a dispensary.

“Whether it's regarding the agricultural aspect or processing aspect or a dispensary aspect -- or a type of side industry such as soil or other things that spin off of it,” Buchanan says.

Buchanan has been operating a dispensary in Washington for about two years.

Ohio's medical marijuana law sets aside 15 percent of the licenses for economically disadvantaged minorities. But Buchanan says his group is as qualified -- if not more qualified -- than others, regardless of race.

He adds that if all goes as planned, his group could open its first dispensary here by next fall.

Here are the conditions approved under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program for treatment with marijuana:

  • AIDS
  •  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  •  Alzheimer’s disease
  •  Cancer
  •  Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  •  Crohn’s disease
  •  Epilepsy or another seizure disorder
  •  Fibromyalgia
  •  Glaucoma
  •  Hepatitis C
  •  Inflammatory bowel disease
  •  Multiple sclerosis
  •  Pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable
  •  Parkinson’s disease
  •  Positive status for HIV
  •  Post-traumatic stress disorder
  •  Sickle cell anemia
  •  Spinal cord disease or injury
  •  Tourette’s syndrome
  •  Traumatic brain injury
  •  Ulcerative colitis
Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. A graduate of Hudson High School, he received his Bachelor's from Kent State University. While a Kent student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.