The Ohio Department of Commerce has chosen the 12 companies that will be given licenses to operate large-scale medical marijuana growing farms. They also chose a final small grower, rounding out the list of 24 companies authorized to produce medical marijuana under a new system expected to go live by September.
Seven of the 12 companies awarded large cultivator licenses are located in Northeast Ohio, including the tiny village of Mount Orab and the city of Akron. None are in Central Ohio, although one small-scale grower was selected in Columbus' Milo-Grogan neighborhood.
Southeast Ohio has two and Southwest Ohio have three, including Cresco Labs. It got the tenth highest score on the criteria established by state controllers. It also has ties to former Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder and former Republican Party operative Chris Schrimpf.
But Charlie Bachtell with Cresco Labs says political affiliations are not why his company was chosen.
“In Illinois, we had the highest score, second highest score and third highest score of 158 applications,” Bachtell says. “And in Pennsylvania, of the 177 applications, we had the second highest score there.”
In total, 109 companies applied for the licenses. Large growers paid $20,000 to apply to operate sites up to 25,000 square feet. They'll pay $180,000 in initial licensing fees and $200,000 a year thereafter.
The 12 chosen growers applied for sites in Brown and Summit counties, the respective homes of Mount Orab's 3,500 residents and Akron's roughly 200,000 - as well as Cuyahoga, Lake, Muskingum, Erie, Mahoning, Clark, Stark, Sandusky, Greene and Lawrence.
Some of those not chosen are questioning the results, and at least one of the businesses that wasn’t chosen is threatening to take legal action against the state.
CannAscend Chief Executive Jimmy Gould said in a Thursday statement that his company had discovered significant problems with the state's license-granting process. He says he will discuss his concerns at a Friday news conference.