Pot Entrepreneur Threatens To Sue Ohio Over MMJ Licensing Process

There’s a ton of controversy surrounding Ohio’s MMJ licensing process.
Pot Entrepreneur Threatens To Sue Ohio Over MMJ Licensing Process

One of Ohio’s biggest players in the legal cannabis business is threatening to pursue legal action after his medical marijuana company was declined a grower’s license.

Jimmy Gould, the CEO of the Cincinnati-based medical marijuana company CannAscend and co-founder of Ohio’s 2015 failed marijuana legalization measure, ResponsibleOhio, called the state’s evaluation process a “travesty” and plans to file a lawsuit over the flawed MMJ licensing process. He claimed that licenses were awarded to political insiders, rather than companies that actually met the criteria outlined by state regulators and called the process “a glorified essay writing contest.”

One company awarded a license had direct ties to former Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder and former Republican Party operative Chris Schrimpf, but the company’s spokesperson claims they were awarded a contract due to the quality of their proposal. Additionally, two companies that received licensing did not place in the top 12 of scoring applicants but were awarded contracts because they were minority-owned.

CannAscend, who scored 132.72 points, only good for 52nd place, was disqualified from the competition for an undisclosed reason. Gould maintained that he’s not bitter over not receiving a license but is merely trying to fix a broken process.

“This is not sour grapes,” he said. “It’s not about us getting a license. The process is broken, and we will not stop until we get a fair process. It’s time to start the review over with new scores.”

One of Gould’s main points of contention was that the winning companies received information that other businesses did not receive.He also mentioned that some of the winning applicants failed to include mandatory information in their proposals and at least one of the 12 winners plagiarized copyrighted information from his company.

Gould said he reached out to a number of other cultivators who were also denied licenses and plans to take legal action against the state.

“The notion that none of them or us received scores above 142 points is disturbing, at best, and will be proven to be in serious error in the extensive discovery process to accompany the onslaught of litigation that is forthcoming against the state from our group and dozens of others,” Gould said in a news conference last Friday at CannAscend’s headquarters.

Final Hit: Pot Entrepreneur Threatens To Sue Ohio Over MMJ Licensing Process

Despite Gould’s grumblings, the Department of Commerce spokesperson Stepanie Gostomski claims many of Gould’s arguments are off-base and says the department stands by their process.

“The department conducted a comprehensive, fair and impartial evaluation of all applications. Any applicant who didn’t receive a license has the right to appeal that decision, and the department is giving all the notifications to appeal those processes,” Gostomski said.

Gostomski explained there were a various number of valid reasons why companies were excluded from receiving a license. Some of these included failing a background test, in addition to not meeting the mandatory minimum scores in certain departments.

Despite Gostomski’s brief explanation, companies are still seeking answers regarding Ohio’s MMJ licensing process. PharmaCann’s general counsel Jeremy Unruh also expressed his desire for a more clear-cut answer on how points were awarded to each business.

“We’re continuing to digest the results,” Unruh said. “Our goal is not to take anything away from other successful groups. Our goal is if we are supposed to be included, according to the law, that the Department of Commerce recognizes it.”

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