Major roadblock to medical marijuana in Ohio solved? College steps up to test cannabis

COLUMBUS - Without a public college or university to test medical marijuana, no one would be purchasing the drug anytime soon.

Other states allow private laboratories to test marijuana's properties before it is sold, but Ohio's law put a one-year moratorium on private testers in favor of colleges. Many public universities worried they would lose money from a federal government that still labels marijuana as among the most dangerous, illegal drugs.

But one college announced Tuesday it is up to the task: Hocking College in southeast Ohio.

The 3,000-student technical college plans to create a curriculum around the testing process and is setting up an endowment to pay for laboratory renovation and equipment.

Hocking College is the only applicant that has publicized its bid to test medical marijuana in Ohio. Universities and colleges have until Sept. 22 to apply with the Ohio Department of Commerce. Each applicant must pay a $2,000 fee. If selected, each university will pay a $18,000 fee to operate its testing lab.

Even as Hocking College President Betty Young announced her college's plans to seek the testing laboratory, she did not take a stance on medical marijuana.

“The decision to lead this medical cannabis lab effort was not based on the merits or lack of merits regarding cannabis,” Young said in a statement.

Still, college officials estimate the lab would create more than a dozen new jobs in the Appalachian county.

Ohio lawmakers had hoped to have the state's medical marijuana program up and running by September 2018, but officials now say they need more time to review the extensive list of groups that applied to grow marijuana here. 

The Cincinnati Enquirer


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