Spurned medical marijuana applicant pushes new pot issue

Published 6:48 am Tuesday, December 12, 2017

COLUMBUS (AP) — A high-profile proponent of marijuana legalization who was spurned as an applicant for a medical marijuana grower’s license announced plans on Monday for a 2018 Ohio ballot issue to legalize the sale and possession of marijuana.

The proposal from Green Light Acquisitions would make growing, processing, possessing, selling and using marijuana legal. The measure was announced by Jimmy Gould, CEO of CannAscend, whose grower’s proposal was rejected by the Ohio Department of Commerce last month.

Gould said the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol amendment will be on the ballot next fall. The amendment also would legalize the growing of hemp.

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“We will put together the best amendment that we think will pass and does the most good for Ohioans,” Gould said.

Gould raised and spent millions of dollars as a backer of the unsuccessful 2015 effort to legalize marijuana in Ohio. In recent days he has criticized the Department of Commerce for hiring a consultant with a drug conviction to help select Ohio’s medical marijuana growers.

Gould said Monday the selection system was flawed by incompetence and favoritism. He suggested problems with a second consultant involved in the medical marijuana program. He also alleged someone at the Department of Commerce was looking for a job with the applicants for growers’ licenses.

Commerce spokeswoman Kerry Francis denied those allegations Monday. Consultants hired by the state to help score growers’ applications had limited influence on overall selections, and weren’t aware of the identity of applicants they reviewed.

She said applicants denied a grower’s license can appeal.

“We have confidence that we had a blind and impartial process,” Francis said.