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Ohio auditor criticizes handling of medical marijuana program

While medical marijuana was legalized in Ohio in 2016, there have been some hiccups in trying to get the program off the ground. One particular issue is the issuance of licenses for cultivators of medical marijuana. Per law, if a person in Ohio wants to grow marijuana, they must have a license from the state to do so. And, at least one report indicates that the state's approach towards licensure has made some critical errors.

A recent report issued from the Ohio auditor's office stated that regulators in the state made numerous data entry mistakes, did not correctly redact identification information from applications to cultivate medical marijuana and were inconsistent in scoring 185 cultivation applications.

According to the auditor, the department failed to exercise due diligence in launching the state's medical marijuana cultivation program. He claimed that security weaknesses existed that would permit applications or scores to be altered by a state worker. The auditor also stated that the Commerce Department did not have the authority to issue additional licenses as a means of addressing initial errors made. The Commerce Department disagrees, stating that the agency did have the lawful authority to do so.

The program was to become operational by September 8. That didn't happen. However, six cultivators have been approved to begin operations, and expect initial harvests will allow dispensaries to open by the end of 2018.

In the end, it is important that the voters' will is implemented. Ohioans legalized medical marijuana, and it should be grown and made available for sale in state dispensaries. While the initial two-year deadline may not be adhered to, the sooner regulators can address the issues they face in licensing cultivators of marijuana, the sooner the drug will be made available to those who need it.

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