OH: Frustrated Activist Bashes Kasich, Eyes Recreational Weed

Photo Credit: Richard Vogel

An architect of Ohio’s medical marijuana law Friday accused Gov. John Kasich of intentionally torpedoing the state’s program, which is supposed to start in September.

The marijuana proponent, Jimmy Gould, is suing the state. But he also said he’s working along a parallel track to get a constitutional amendment allowing recreational marijuana on the ballot as soon as November.

In a wide-ranging press conference, Gould described his frustration with the Ohio Department of Commerce’s scoring of applications to grow medical marijuana. His company, CannAscend, was denied one of the provisional grow licenses and he’s suing, seeking to stop the state from issuing any final licenses.

State Auditor Dave Yost also has found what he believes are numerous, serious flaws in the process. And Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester, has introduced a bill that would require an audit of the process before contracts can be awarded.

Gould said he fought for the medical marijuana law against endless opposition from Kasich. He said he didn’t believe it was a coincidence that Kasich disliked the law and that its implementation has been problematic.

“The people in charge don’t want to see it work,” Gould said. “We shoved it down their throat.”

Kasich spokesman Jon Keeling didn’t respond to a request for comment.

As his lawsuit proceeds, Gould also is researching ballot language to amend the Ohio Constitution to allow recreational marijuana. He said that could go on the ballot in November or in 2019 or 2020.

One of Gould’s lawyers said that more than 100 firms applied for large growers licenses. The Commerce Department issued 12 provisional licenses for the operations, which will be up to 24,000 square feet. Another 12 were issued for operations of up to 3,000 square feet.

Of the large-grow applicants, 60 have appealed the denial of their applications, said the lawyer, Larry Jones.

Gould said the Kasich administration can either straighten out the medical marijuana problems or he’ll go back to the voters to legalize recreational pot.

“We can always take it back to the public,” he said.