Ohio picks 11 smaller growers for medical marijuana program

By Kantele Franko - Associated Press

COLUMBUS — Ohio has chosen the first 11 cultivators for its medical marijuana program, though it could be months before they’re authorized to start producing their crop.

The smaller growers selected Friday can cultivate up to 3,000 square feet, representing a small portion of the anticipated total. Up to a dozen larger growers for sites as big as 25,000 square feet are expected to be announced later this month.

All of the sites will be indoor, high-security, regulated businesses. These companies have nine months to get their businesses operational, and a state team must visit their facilities before they get a certificate that allows them to grow, Department of Commerce spokeswoman Stephanie Gostomski said.

“Ohio is the 25th state to implement a medical marijuana program, so Ohio has the benefit of learning from states in the past that have done this,” she said.

Some local governments have instituted moratoriums on growing or dispensing medical marijuana, but the department isn’t aware of any such conflicts with the locations for the selected smaller growers, Gostomski said.

Ohio’s medical marijuana law, passed last year, allows people with medical conditions such as cancer and epilepsy to buy and use marijuana if a doctor recommends it, but it doesn’t allow smoking. The program is slated to be operational by next fall.

The state can offer up to 24 cultivator licenses — up to 12 smaller growers and 12 larger ones. A 12th smaller cultivator could be selected later.

Ohio accepted 185 total applications, which are evaluated based on their plans for business, operations, quality assurance, security and finances.

Among those selected Friday, the top-scoring applicant was Fire Rock Ltd., which applied for locations in Akron, Canton and Columbus. The other smaller growers chosen are:

— FN Group Holdings LLC in Ravenna

— Mother Grows Best LLC in Canton

— OhiGrow LLC in Toledo

— Ancient Roots LLC in Wilmington

— Ohio Clean Leaf LLC in Carroll and Dayton

— Ascension BioMedical LLC in Oberlin

— Agri-Med Ohio LLC in Langsville

— Paragon Development Group LLC in Huber Heights

— Hemma LLC in Monroe

— Galenas LLC in Akron

By Kantele Franko

Associated Press

Find Kantele Franko on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10 and her work at http://bit.ly/2qEaebN.

Find Kantele Franko on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10 and her work at http://bit.ly/2qEaebN.