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Ohio Auditor Calls For Investigation Into State's Medical Marijuana Program

Legal Marijuana Oregon
Gosia Wozniacka
Associated Press

State Auditor Dave Yost says questions about past drug convictions of a consultant who played a key role in Ohio’s new medical marijuana program, set to begin operation in September, need to be addressed now. And he says it’s time for an investigation.

Yost says he’s troubled by reports that the consultant who graded applications from companies seeking licenses had drug convictions in his past.

“This is an epic fail. I’m outraged,” Yost said.

Yost questions how someone with those convictions could be hired by the state for up to $150,000 to do that work.

“I think this revelation calls into question all of the work that’s been done,” he said.

Yost, who is running for attorney general, wants current A.G. Mike DeWine, who is running for governor, to start a full investigation into how this consultant was chosen by the Ohio Department of Commerce, the lead agency overseeing Ohio’s medical marijuana program.

The agency’s request for proposal for consultants did not ask about past criminal convictions.

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.

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.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.