Ex-Convict Consulting on Marijuana License Applications in Ohio

Ohio is working hard on trying to get its medical marijuana program streamlined. They are in the process of assigning licenses to cannabis cultivators and it turns out they have an ex-convict consulting on who should win a license.

The issue came out when one of the applicants was denied a license and contested the result. They pointed out that one of the people judging them was convicted of drug dealing.

A chorus of state and local officials on Wednesday called for a freeze on state-issued medical marijuana growers’ licenses after learning one of the consultants hired to grade license applications is a convicted drug dealer.

“It’s possible that this just looks horrible and there’s not a problem, but I wouldn’t put money on that,” according to State Auditor Dave Yost, who said at the very least the consultant’s criminal background calls into question the integrity of the selection process.

The Ohio Department of Commerce last week awarded 12 preliminary “Level 1” licenses for medical marijuana growers with up to 25,000 square feet of growing space.

Cincinnati-based CannAscend Ohio, one of the 97 applicants denied a Level 1 growers’ license, contested the results and discovered that one of the application reviewers pled guilty in 2005 to possession with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance in Pennsylvania and was sentenced to three years of probation.

The cultivator contesting the decision to deny their application plainly was looking for anything they could to reverse the decision. The real question here is whether it is necessarily wrong for an ex-convict to be working with a state on its medical marijuana program.


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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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