While many Ohio patients eagerly wait in the wings for medical marijuana to take effect, state lawmakers have taken a slow and methodical approach to implementation. Although regulators finished drafting the program’s rules a month ahead of the schedule deadline, legalization is still not expected to kick off until September 2018. Even though the newly approved law has just surfaced, the infantile industry is already facing a number of issues.
One of the key prerequisites for the state's medical cannabis system is that public colleges and universities in Ohio test all legal weed for "potency, homogeneity and contamination" before it can be sold to patients. However, many of these educational institutions have refrained from taking part in testing cannabis, expressing concern about losing funding from the federal government.
But this week, Hocking College became the first school in the state to apply to test medical marijuana. With just around 3,000 students, the technical college plans to set up an endowment that would pay for laboratory renovations and equipment. Additionally, they would create a curriculum that focuses on the cannabis testing process.
Thus far, the southeastern Ohio school is the only one to publicly apply with the state Department of Commerce. Each university or college is required to pay a $2,000 application fee, followed by an $18,000 fee in order to open and operate a medical marijuana testing lab. Hocking College estimates that the program would create more than a dozen jobs for local Buckeye State residents.
Most importantly, the technical college’s decision to vie for a cannabis laboratory could help thwart any further delay in implementation. Public universities and colleges interested in applying must do so by the September 22 deadline, but fears of federal repercussions have steered most away. On top of that, the state’s medical marijuana regulators placed a one-year moratorium on private testing labs, meaning this fairly small school could just be the only hope for the implementation of Ohio's medical cannabis program this year.