A letter from the Ohio Department of Commerce today invites State Auditor Dave Yost to pause the state’s medical marijuana program while concerns over the digital security of license applications is vetted.
Yost’s press secretary told Cannabis Business Times that the office is “formulating a response.” (Yost was out of the office this afternoon, attending a funeral for fallen police officers. A full response to the letter is expected sometime next week.
As part of its oversight responsibility, the Ohio Department of Commerce is now sifting through license applications for medical marijuana processors and testing facilities, but it’s the 24 cultivation licenses awarded late last year that have drawn intense scrutiny and prompted today’s letter.
Earlier this week, Yost identified what he called a “critical flaw” in the state’s cultivation license scoring system—namely, that administrators could, in theory, access and manipulate applicants’ results. The security gap was enough for Yost to call into question the integrity of the state Department of Commerce license distribution.
In working to correct that error, the Department of Commerce stumbled on “inadvertent data input errors in the financial data plan scoring of the cultivator applications,” according to Director Jacqueline Williams. The department confirmed that the error was significant enough to push at least one company (PharmaCann, LLC) out of the 12 winning slots for large-scale growers and deny it a license that it should have rightfully earned.
PharmaCann’s owners have already filed a separate lawsuit against the state of Ohio, alleging that diversity requirements in the cultivation license scoring process distorted the results and forced PharmaCann out of a license.
Given the uncertainty surrounding Ohio’s licensing process, the Department of Commerce will follow Yost’s lead, sometime next week, in either pausing the program or pushing forward.
Elsewhere, Jimmy Gould, chairman and CEO of CannAscend, is moving forward on a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow adults 21 and older to grow and use marijuana. (CannAscend was unsuccessful in its own bid for a large-scale cultivation license in Ohio.)
Top photo courtesy of Adobe Stock
Source: Cannabis Business Times