Earlier this month, the Ohio Department of Commerce released the list of the twelve entities who received a provisional Level I Cultivator License. And, controversy followed. The Department received 109 Level I cultivator applications, but only 36 met the minimum requirements and were considered for a provisional license. Despite receiving a final score that would have placed them in the final list of twelve, two companies were denied licenses as the Department purportedly “fulfilled its obligations under Ohio Revised Code Section 3796.09(C) by awarding two level I provisional licenses to economically disadvantaged applicants.” R.C. 3796.09(C) mandates that not less than fifteen percent of cultivator, processor, or laboratory licenses must be awarded to “members of the following economically disadvantaged groups: Blacks or African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics or Latinos, and Asians.”
In a lawsuit filed on December 13, 2017 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, PharmaCann Ohio, LLC sued the Ohio Department of Commerce over the application of this controversial mandate. PharmaCann alleges R.C. 3796.09(C) is unconstitutional because it denies certain citizens the opportunity to compete for a fixed percentage of public licenses based upon nothing more than their race. According to the complaint, PharmaCann would have been awarded the coveted twelfth Level I Cultivator License (based upon the score its application received), but was denied this license when the Department applied R.C. 3796.09(C) and gave the license to a lower-scoring “economically disadvantaged” applicant.
See PharmaCann Ohio, LLC v. Jacqueline Williams, Case No. 17 CV 10962 (Judge Schneider)