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As Medical Marijuana Struggles in Ohio, A New Plan for Recreational Legalization Emerges


To say things have not been smooth when it comes to marijuana law reform in Ohio over the last 3 years would be an understatement. The crushing defeat of Issue 3 in November 2015 led to the legislature passing a rather restrictive medical cannabis law the following year.

The process of implementing that medical marijuana law has cleared several hurdles; the latest hurdle has involved some rather high-up people in the state government calling for a delay after one of the reviewers involved in the process of approving cultivator licenses was found to have been convicted on drug charges about 12 years ago in Pennsylvania.

“There are rumors going around and people are making allegations,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “The credibility of the process is really in question and this can’t just go on and on.” DeWine called on the Ohio Department of Commerce to hire an independent third party to review what is going on with the medical cannabis program.

For their part, the commerce department says they didn’t ask those involved in scoring the cultivator applications about their past criminal record, didn’t know about the past record of Trevor Bozeman (the person whose past record has created the firestorm) and don’t plan on any sort of delay in light of the new information.

Department spokeswoman Stephanie Gostomski said Bozeman was one of 20+ reviewers involved in scoring the applications and that the names or other identifiable information of those who submitted the applications weren’t known to those reviewing them, meaning the reviewers couldn’t have shown favoritism to any applicants.

“It’s imperative to the integrity of the program to maintain uniformity moving forward, utilizing the same processes and reviewers,” Gostomski said in regards to the process of reviewing the applications for medical marijuana testing labs and product manufacturers.

To add more confusion, the group behind Issue 3 – and the same people who uncovered Bozeman’s past criminal record – say they plan on introducing an adult-use legalization plan soon that they will attempt to get on the 2018 Ohio statewide ballot. The group says the plan will be more “free-market” oriented, an indication that they know how much the “monopoly” allegations aimed at the way cultivation was set up under Issue 3 hurt the measure at the ballot box in 2015. When details of the new plan are released, we will see just how much they learned from that debacle.