Calls come for Ohio's medical marijuana licensing process to be redone
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKRC) - Ohio's marijuana mess is quickly becoming a political issue in the race for governor.
This comes as evidence continues to mount that the licensing process was seriously tainted.
Local 12's Duane Pohlman continues his investigation with a close examination of the flaws and the growing calls to redo the whole process:
Marijuana will mean millions of dollars to the 24 companies that got the license to grow it in Ohio, but the process of handing out those licenses remains under fire.
Just this week, Ohio auditor Dave Yost released a letter to the Department of Commerce, which oversees the marijuana program, pointing to more "significant errors" on two applications that "should have disqualified" one of companies that got a license.
"They should have been automatically disqualified," Yost said.
They weren't, and in a letter responding to the auditor, Commerce stood by its decision, writing the license was "properly awarded."
Duane Pohlman: Is there enough so far that you're concerned that the integrity of the process is in question?
Yost: Look, the integrity of the process is in question. It's not a matter of my determination; anyone looking at the facts would look at this and say this was not well done.
And the optics remain a problem too.
Cresco Labs Ohio, one of the companies that got a license to grow medical marijuana, insists politics played no part in their selection, even though the company is headed up by Chris Schrimpf, Gov. John Kasich's former presidential campaign spokesperson.
And with Kasich remaining quiet, Ohio's marijuana mess will likely be left to the next governor to clean up.
Dennis Kucinich and Richard Cordray, both leading Democratic candidates for governor say the process should be redone.
"I think we have what is building to be a train wreck here," Cordray said.
Both are also concerned about signs of corruption.
While Cordray is cautious:
"I think if we find the process to have been flawed, the right thing to do may well be to reopen it -- to rebid it," he said.
Kucinich is convinced that it needs to be addressed immediately:
"As governor, I would order that the application process be redone based on the questions of the integrity of the last one, and then open it up," he said.
Both Cordray and Kucinich also said they are worried that the problems could delay medicine for people who need it.
On the Republican side, Mike DeWine has told me there are problems with the medical marijuana program, even though, as attorney general, he must now defend the state against the lawsuits over that program.
Mary Taylor, who's Ohio's lieutenant governor, has not responded to Local 12's requests for comment about this issue.
The state has set aside $2 million in legal fees to defend itself against lawsuits filed over the medical marijuana licensing program. One of those lawsuits is led by Cincinnati entrepreneur Jimmy Gould, whose company was not awarded a license.