Mary Taylor’s Chief Of Staff Has New Job With Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Program

Photo Credit: Jackie Borchardt

A longtime Kasich administration staffer has a new job advising Ohio’s nascent medical marijuana program, but few details were available Friday about what he will do in the new role.

Mark Hamlin, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor’s chief of staff, will take a senior policy position at the Ohio Department of Commerce, which is one of three state agencies overseeing the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, Taylor spokesman David Hopcraft confirmed Friday. The Department of Commerce is responsible for the cultivation, testing and processing portions of the medical marijuana supply chain.

The department has come under fire in recent months over reports it unknowingly hired a felon with a drug conviction to help score applications and for how it handled that and other concerns about the scoring process. Last week, six unsuccessful cultivators sued the department, alleging it did not follow its own rules during the scoring process.

Hamlin was the lead staff person on Kasich’s “common sense initiative,” a state effort to work with businesses and state agencies to cut red tape in rules and regulations. Much of Ohio’s medical marijuana program is detailed in those agency rules instead of state law.

It was unknown Friday how big of a role Hamlin will play in the program going forward.

The Department of Commerce did not reply Friday afternoon to questions about the move. A spokesman for Gov. John Kasich referred to the Commerce Department, which is a governor’s cabinet agency.

Hamlin will start his new job March 5, Hopcraft said. Emily Kaylor, the director of the common sense initiative, will serve as interim chief of staff.

Hamlin has worked in the lieutenant governor’s office since 2011. He was promoted to chief of staff in March 2017, after several predecessors served only months-long stints in the position.