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Rules For Ohio's Medical Pot Growers Win Final Legislative Approval

Ohio's rules for medical marijuana cultivators have cleared their final legislative hurdle. The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review cleared the rules for growers, including application and license fees, without objection on Monday.

Medical marijuana regulators will have broad discretion on which crimes merit disqualification for potential growers, as the rules do not automatically disqualify those with misdemeanor convictions.

Existing state law says people convicted of some crimes can still be eligible for marijuana business licenses if the crimes occurred more than five years ago.

Columbus attorney David Patton told the panel he was concerned about banning people with certain criminal records from applying for a cultivator license. He says leaving open what convictions count is setting the state up for a lawsuit.

Under the rules, medical pot will be grown at no more than 24 licensed sites, which will be subject to some of the largest fees in the country.

Half of the growing sites will be limited to 3,000 square feet or less.

The rules also let the state to decide whether to expand the number of growing licenses, or triple the size of existing sites. However, rules for dispensaries, processors and testing labs are still in the planning stage, with a deadline of September 8 for finalization.

A state law passed last year identifies 20 conditions that can be treated with marijuana prescribed by a doctor. Ohio’s medical pot program has to be fully operational by September 2018.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.