Ohio Department of Commerce to Conduct Public Hearing on Proposed Amendments to Medical Marijuana Rules

July 19, 2019Legal Alerts

On July 23, 2019, the Ohio Department of Commerce will conduct a public hearing regarding proposed amendments to several Medical Marijuana Control Program rules. The Medical Marijuana Control Program allows individuals with specified medical conditions, upon the recommendation of an Ohio-licensed physician, to purchase and use medical marijuana. The rules govern the activities of medical marijuana cultivators, processors, and testing laboratories. Such entities should be aware of the proposed changes, which may impact compliance with state building regulations, proper disposal of medical marijuana waste, information employers must submit to the department on new employees, and confidentiality of information obtained from investigations into medical marijuana practices. Although these rules are not likely to create significant changes in operations, one addition would allow for variances for violations of the rules when the variance is in the public interest and not inconsistent with a statute.

The provisions to be modified by the proposed amendments, along with the proposed new rule, are summarized below:

  1. Cultivator Certificate of Operation (§3796:2-1-06):  Medical marijuana cultivation activities are not considered “agriculture” for purposes of building exemptions. Accordingly, any building in which cultivation activities occur must be safe and sanitary, cultivators must appeal any issues related to their building standards to the certified local board of building appeals for their county, if one exists, and they must submit any plans for construction or alteration of buildings to their municipal, township, or county building department.
  2. Cultivator/Processor/Testing Laboratory Waste Disposal (§3796:2-2-03, §3796:3-2-03, §3796:4-2-06): The Department of Commerce proposed relaxed standards regarding who must supervise waste disposal activities. Consequently, cultivation, processor, and testing laboratory waste disposal would require only supervision from an individual with control and management over the day-to-day activities of the operations. Additionally, cultivators and processors must dispose of medical marijuana in a manner that makes it unusable, with disposal by surrender to the department’s director removed as an option.
  3. Employee Identification Cards (§3796:5-2-01):  The proposed amendment aims to simplify the process for onboarding employees with the Department of Commerce. Employers would need only to submit to the department a prospective employee’s completed application, a copy of the applicant’s driver’s license or state issued identification card establishing the individual is at least 21 years of age, the name of the employer, the application fee, and any additional information requested by the department in the application.
  4. Scope of Enforcement and Enforcement Powers (§3796:5-6-01):  The proposed amendment would remove the requirement that information obtained by the Department of Commerce subjecting employees and licensees to potential disciplinary action remain confidential. This amendment seeks to align with Ohio public records law, which generally compels disclosure of such information upon request by a member of the public.
  5. Variances (§3796:5-6-04):  Under the new proposed rule, the director of the Department of Commerce would have discretion to grant variances from the Medical Marijuana Control Program rules in cases in which granting the variance is in the public interest, the applicable provision is not mandated by statute, and the rule from which the variance is granted would, in the particular case, be unreasonable or unnecessarily burdensome.

The full notice of public hearing on the revised Medical Marijuana Control Program Rules can be found at http://www.registerofohio.state.oh.us/hearings/hearingsSearch/ results/738975/327122.   For questions on compliance with the Medical Marijuana Control Program or to submit comments to the proposed rules, please contact your Dinsmore health care attorney.