Ohio judge: Medical marijuana ownership ‘racial quota’ is unconstitutional

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An Ohio judge struck down a provision in the state’s medical cannabis program stipulating that 15% of licenses go to minority-owned groups, saying it’s unconstitutional.

Franklin County Judge Charles Schneider said the provision denied Greenleaf Gardens, one of the cultivation license applicants, of its rights because two lower-rated, minority-owned firms were picked ahead of it.

The ruling means the state could potentially OK another provisional MMJ grow license to Greenleaf, which would result in 14 large-scale growers and 13 small-scale cultivators, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

The decision also could allow Greenleaf to apply for other parts of Ohio’s medical marijuana program.

Here are some other factors surrounding the situation:

  • The “racial quota” included in Ohio’s MMJ has been a point of contention for several months, and some growers have argued the law violates the state constitution’s equal protection clause by giving preference to companies owned by minorities instead of basing winners on the state scoring process.
  • The state Department of Commerce, which oversees the program, told The Columbus Dispatch it was reviewing the Friday ruling.
  • The state had asked the court to reject the lawsuit, arguing that getting a license to grow marijuana isn’t a federal right.
  • After several delays, Ohio officials say small amounts of cannabis could become available for sale to patients before the end of the year.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily