• Randy Shaffer

Ohio Judge Shoots Down 'Racial Quota' Requirement For Cultivators, 2 Licenses Granted


In fall of 2016, Ohio lawmakers finally permitted the use of medical marijuana to treat 21 qualifying conditions. Tucked into that bill (Ohio HB 523) was a 'racial quota' which required that 15% of all licenses awarded to cultivators should be from businesses described as coming from "economically disadvantaged” racial groups, such as African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, or American Indians.


However, a recent central Ohio court ruling deemed this aspect of HB 523 to be unconstitutional, paving the way for two additional licenses, Greenleaf Gardens LLC and PharmaCann Ohio LLC, that were kicked out of the license scoring process because of this racial quota. What this means for patients is that there will be more choices in cultivators, and ultimately more types of cannabis grown.


Racial quota shot down

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Charles A. Schneider (Republican) was the ultimate decider of this recent ruling, handed down last week (November 16, 2018). In his summary judgement, Schneider wrote, "The court finds the 15 percent set aside is not insignificant and the burden to be excessive for a newly created industry with limited participants."


The ruling did not strip the license of Parma Wellness, the business awarded a license because of 'racial qouta' because the suing cultivators did not wish to slow the process of bringing medical marijuana to Ohio any more than it already has. As such, Parma Wellness will be allowed to continue with their business.


Though the 'racial quota' measure was put into place to help ensure that minority communities could get a vested stake in the cannabis industry, the downside of this measure is that it prevents other potentially more qualified candidates from gaining a license in an industry that already has a tight cap on how many businesses can even be approved. By removing race from the equation, now (theoretically) every potential cannabis business entrepreneur who wants to apply can do so freely, regardless of race or ethnicity.


A logical argument against this ruling is that any minority wanting to gain a license who may not be scored quite as high as another potential cultivator will not be given a chance to prove themselves in the marijuana industry. And since the war on drugs has sent more members of minority communities to prison than white communities, 15% is barely even enough to compensate for decades of racial disparity and targeted criminal profiling for a drug that is now legal in many states.


If anything, Ohio should have simply awarded licenses to both qualifying candidates and candidates with minority backgrounds, and not placed such a low cap on how many cultivators would be approved. That being said, allowing home grows and small scale cultivator caretakers would also have been a game-changer in Ohio. Alas, this is one aspect of HB 523 that needs some serious work.


What is marijuana cultivation?

With two new cultivation licenses granted, that now brings the total number of Ohio medical marijuana cultivators to 13 small-scale and 14 large-scale.


Cultivation facilities are the lifeblood of the marijuana industry. With skilled botanists watching over every single plant, medical marijuana is carefully grown to ensure high potency and high quality, without compromised chemicals or materials added.


Large scale marijuana cultivation facilities will grow literally tens of thousands of cannabis plants. Smaller facilities grow less than 5000. Larger facilities will help provide enough cannabis plant material to mass produce cannabis products like oils, creams, tinctures and edibles, in addition to plant material for dry herb vaping. Small facilities will likely also deliver plant materials (aka buds or flower) for dry herb vaping, as well as smaller batches of processed cannabis (oils, creams, etc).


Ohio's strict set of rules and regulations have led to some unfortunate delays in the program, but once the industry is moving full steam, these regulations will ultimately benefit medical marijuana patients. This is because cannabis grown in Ohio will be held to a high standard. No more ditch weed. No more pesticide-riddled cannabis, or cannabis that's infested with aphids or other bugs. No more sketchy snicklefritz. Cannabis grown in Ohio medical marijuana cultivation facilities will be targeted to MMJ patient needs, and will be the best quality cannabis that patients can buy.


If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.


Click here to learn more about what Ohio Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at 1-866-457-5559 and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.