Sarah Climaco

Ohio Court: Cannabis Licensing Racial Quota Is Unconstitutional

An Ohio court has ruled that the state’s “racial quota” for medical cannabis business licenses is unconstitutional, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Ohio law requires that 15 percent of medical cannabis cultivation licenses be awarded to businesses owned by a racial minority — a provision included to help address damage done by prohibition to minority communities.

Two of the state’s 12 cultivation licenses were awarded to minority-owned companies, but businesses who were passed over despite receiving higher scores on their application felt slighted and filed suit against the provision in December.

The company who first filed suit, PharmaCann Ohio LLC, was eventually awarded a 13th cultivation license after a scoring error was discovered. The suit was then picked up by Greenleaf Gardens LLC, another applicant who was passed over due to the racial quota provision.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Charles A. Schneider sided with the plaintiffs in an opinion written on Thursday.

“The court finds the 15 percent set aside is not insignificant and the burden to be excessive for a newly created industry with limited participants.” — Judge Charles A. Schneider, in his written judgment, via The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ohio’s Department of Commerce spokesperson Kerry Francis told The Enquirer that the department hasn’t decided whether it would appeal the judge’s ruling or just issue additional licenses.

Ohio’s medical cannabis program was expected to launch in September but has experienced numerous delays. Products are expected to finally hit dispensary shelves within the next month.

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