Testing rule worries Ohio medical marijuana advocates

Medical marijuana advocates in Ohio are concerned a little-known rule that stipulates who can test cannabis products could delay the launch of the program.

Under the state’s MMJ law, private laboratories will not be allowed to test medical cannabis for the first year of the program, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Instead, the state’s public universities will be responsible for testing.

However, universities may decline to test medical marijuana products because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level illegal. By testing an illegal product, schools would technically be breaking U.S. law and risk losing federal funding, and so far they’ve shown little interest in taking on such responsibility.

There also is the matter of startup costs. Universities interested in testing marijuana would have to pay a $2,000 application fee and an $18,000 license fee. They also would have to invest upwards of $1 million in testing equipment and ancillary items, according to the Enquirer.

The concerns aren’t without merit. Maryland’s MMJ program initially granted exclusive dispensing responsibilities to universities with accredited medical programs. But universities failed to sign on, so legislators had to rework the program, the Enquirer reported.

Officials at four of Ohio’s public universities – Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Kent State and Ohio State – told the newspaper they have no plans to test medical cannabis.

Testing was among the private business opportunities that Ohio’s MMJ law was expected to create when it went into effect last September. The program could bring in $400 million annually once it’s fully up and running. Dispensaries aren’t expected to open until late 2018.