Ohio’s fledgling medical marijuana program hasn’t served a single patient yet, but complications already abound. The state has started licensing dispensaries and cultivators, but an uncommon provision in the medical legalization law is threatening to delay the entire process.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, for the first year of Ohio’s medical marijuana program, the legislature’s law requires the state’s public colleges and universities to test all of the legal weed for "potency, homogeneity and contamination" before it can be sold to MMJ patients. The problem is that none of the Buckeye State’s institutes of higher education have even so much as applied for the cannabis testing program.
“Ohio public colleges have given no indication that they are willing to test medical marijuana,” Rosenberger said. “We fear that if the law requiring the testing be done by state universities is not amended, we could see delays in the implementation of Ohio’s medical marijuana program.”
From Ohio State University to Bowling Green, to the University of Cincinnati, state colleges around Ohio have been balking at the idea of attaching their ivory towers to fields of green, even if state law requires it.
“Ohio State looks to engage as an appropriate partner while at the same time complying with federal, state and local laws,” Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said in a statement. “It is a challenging situation given that federal and state law are somewhat conflicted. At this time, Ohio State is not pursuing any avenues to engage in testing because of the federal limitations of marijuana as a controlled substance.”
In short, the universities are giving the state no option but to amend the law, delay the implementation, or simply wait out the yearlong period and hope that private sector labs can test enough weed to get the program off the ground.
“The program will be able to begin licensing private labs in June, which is in plenty of time for the September 2018 operational date.” Lindsey LeBerth of the Ohio Department of Commerce, the agency overseeing a significant portion of the medical marijuana program, said.
Ohio residents will be able to use marijuana to treat 21 qualifying conditions, and purchase up to a 90 day supply of cannabis from state-approved stores once the law is implemented. Because Ohio regulators rightly see testing as a necessity, it will be in everyone’s best interest to ditch the higher education requirements and hire private labs as soon as possible.