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Ohio To Have $24M Medical Cannabis Research Facility, Artisanal Grows

Russ Belville

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This week, the International Cannabinoid Institute (ICI) held a press conference at the statehouse in Ohio to announce their commitment to building a $24 million state-of-the-art facility for medical cannabis research.

The breakthrough was announced by Garrett Greenlee from the ICI and Dr. Sue Sisley, the United States’ only FDA-approved researcher for investigating the effects of medical cannabis for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.

The ICI has chosen Ohio as a location specifically because of the constitutional protection that the 2015 legalization initiative, Issue 3, would provide to the grow site.

“The research would be protected under the federal constitution,” Greenlee explained to me on The Russ Belville Show, referring to Sisley’s FDA approval and use of federal cannabis provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “as well as the state constitution.”

Greenlee was initially leery of Issue 3’s plan to limit all commercial growing to 13 million square feet on 10 investor-owned lands. But after a careful reading of the iniative, Greenlee found that Issue 3 doesn’t limit growing to 10 licenses, but rather, growing must occur on only 10 properties. Nothing in Issue 3 prevents those property owners from subdividing their land in any way they choose.

Greenlee used that knowledge to negotiate with the property owner in Licking County to lease 15 acres to the ICI for their research facility.

That’s not the only property where there may end up being multiple growers.

I also recently spoke with John Pardee of the Ohio Rights Group (ORG). His non-profit organization has been fighting for medical marijuana legislation in Ohio for years.

Last weekend, the ORG voted to endorse Issue 3 after they gained assurances from four of the 10 property owners that they will be leasing small plots of their land to multiple small artisanal grows. The growers at those small sites, Pardee assured me, would retain their intellectual property rights over the genetics they produce.

Opponents of Issue 3 who previously told me they were against there being only 10 grow licenses are now shifting the goalposts since it has been revealed there will be multiple grow businesses. Now, the refrain is that those independent grow businesses leasing their land from the 10 landowners will just be subsidizing the landowners. Well, yes, just as any business subsidizes their landlord or their mortgage lender.

Washington State limited their total statewide grow canopy to 2 million square feet. Growers there can’t have a farm any greater than 30,000 square feet. Growers in Colorado are limited to 10,200 plants. In both states, hundreds of people with farming skills have become well-paid master growers and their assistants. Ohio is going to have 13 million square feet for farming, and the rich investors aren’t getting their hands dirty. There will be numerous companies leasing land from these investors and thousands of skilled farm jobs created by those companies.

Ohio votes on marijuana legalization in 32 days.

"Radical" Russ Belville hosts 'The Marijuana Agenda' on YouTube, a live weekday news/talk program all about cannabis. Learn more at MJAgenda.com.

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