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Ohio will not make September deadline for legalizing marijuana

Ohio will not make September deadline for legalizing marijuana

The State of Ohio won’t quite get its medical marijuana program up and running by Sept. 8, the deadline when it was supposed to start.

Officials in the Buckeye State said Tuesday that due to bureaucratic delays, particularly oversight and inspections required for some growers, medical marijuana wouldn’t become available as planned on Sept. 8. Mark Hamlin, a policy adviser in the state’s Department of Commerce, insisted that Ohio had worked hard to make the deadline for sales to start. Hamlin said he knew people in the state were suffering and counting on access to possible relief from marijuana as soon as possible.

On Monday, Ohio approved licenses for 56 separate medical marijuana dispensaries in the Buckeye State, and also named 25 pot growers licensed under the program, which Ohio voters made legal in 2016.

Cannabis cultivators who haven’t yet passed the required state inspections will have trouble getting their marijuana to the dispensaries in time for it to go on sale Sept. 8, the Department of Commerce said.

Ohio stands to earn $11 million in licensing fees from this medical marijuana program even before the product hits dispensary sales, according to local estimates.

Officials gave no dates for when medical pot might go on sale but stressed that they’re working hard to obey the law.

Mike DeWine, the state’s attorney general, who is running for governor, said in local news reports that bureaucratic oversight and inspections are vital to make sure the marijuana offered in medical shops isn’t misused. Ohio hasn’t approved the recreational use of cannabis.

Hamlin said Ohio technically wouldn’t be breaking its law even if medical pot isn’t on sale Sept. 8. He stressed that the letter of the 2016 law says the medical marijuana infrastructure has to be in place by that date, even if sales haven’t quite started.

Some local marijuana advocates – recreational use of pot was on the ballot in the past but was voted down in Ohio – have blamed the missed deadline on Republican Gov. John Kasich, who, they say, is delaying the program because he doesn’t agree with it. However, Hamlin and other state officials say the delays arise more from the burden of putting proper oversight in place.

Monday Ohio approved 56 medical weed dispensaries out of a total of 376 applications. Getting a permit to run a medical marijuana business requires those operations to meet all required state rules within six months.