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Despite Problems, Advocates Want Medical Marijuana Program To Be Ready For Fall

Eric Gay
Associated Press

Even amid lawsuits and concerns over Ohio’s medical marijuana program, advocates are pushing for the program to be ready as scheduled this fall.

Nicole Scholten of Cincinnati wants to try medical marijuana for her teenage daughter Lucy, who has cerebral palsy and severe epilepsy. Scholten says she’s frustrated hearing about companies that wanted to create multi-million dollar businesses filing lawsuits and insisting the license selection process start over.

“I’m here to let our policy makers know that we as patients hope there will be just as much concern, loud voices, and actions taken if this young program develops barriers to patient access,” Scholten says.

Some lawmakers are considering legislation to fix problems that have been found in the growing license application process. Republican state Sen. Bill Coley and Rep. Larry Householder both suggested the process halt, and possibly start over, a call also echoed by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost.

Yost criticized the program after discovering the state hired a man with a felony drug conviction to score the medical marijuana applications.

“This is an epic fail," Yost said. "I’m outraged. And you know it really calls into question the integrity of the entire process.”

Several companies have filed lawsuits saying they were incorrectly denied licenses, and the Department of Commerce has already admitted one potential cultivator was excluded because of a flaw in the grading process.

But Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), a longtime medical pot advocate, says the program needs to be operational as promised in September. Yost says it’s probably too late to pause the program now.