Compliance Agent – Medical Marijuana

by Robin Ann Morris on

Division of Administration 

State of Ohio – Franklin County, OH

$43,410 a year – Full-time, Commission

Conducts and plans investigations & on-site inspections of medical marijuana entity facilities; determines & ensures compliance with statutory & administrative provisions; explains & interprets federal, state, local & departmental statutes/codes/ordinances and policies to business owners/operators; conducts unannounced interviews & inspections; conducts ownership investigations to determine violations of ownership rules under OAC 3796; assists businesses with operating in compliance with all requirements of medical marijuana entity rules and regulations; provides factual information to existing or potential businesses regarding OAC 3796 and applicable departmental policies.

Determines on-view violations &/or non-compliance issues; initiates &/or recommends appropriate corrective measures; conducts interviews (e.g., with convicted felons, permit holders/agents &/or witnesses); conducts research (e.g., reviews & interprets business/operating contracts for compliance; audits & reconciles books & records from permit premises operations; researches governmental records; determines &/or verifies citizenship; obtains certified copies of court records); prepares investigation report; prepares request for citation; takes/attests to affidavits; serves civil subpoenas; maintains evidence; conducts inspections.

Reviews application data (i.e., financial records, complex corporate structures, criminal history reports, lease agreements, managerial agreements, purchase agreements, assets, and ownership documentation); provides factual information to existing or potential businesses regarding OAC 3796 and applicable departmental policies; composes Statements of Deficiency and Notices of Violation for supervisor review; serves civil subpoenas & notices of violation, cease and desist, and other medical marijuana control program orders as needed; maintains accurate records and files and prepares periodic or special reports related to the work performed; monitors changes to existing laws and assesses potential impact on department; reviews independent laboratory testing results.

Reviews change of ownership or location application to ensure compliance of proposed ownership structure or new location with licensure requirements under OAC 3796; makes recommendations pertaining to renewal of MME licenses and changes of ownership/ location; confers with supervisor and legal staff regarding licensing violations; confers with department and legal staff regarding license code interpretation and procedures; receives and responds to telephone and written inquiries from public, applicants and licensees on issues concerning licenses and licensees; establishes and maintains records; receives and processes renewal, transfer of ownership, and change of location applications.

Develops & maintains professional relationship with law enforcement agencies, licensees, general public & government/elected officials; maintains contacts with attorneys & responds to status requests; presents testimony as needed in civil & criminal courts of law, administrative hearings, before boards & commissions; appears at administrative proceedings to provide testimony or reports as required by supervisor or pursuant to subpoena; attends professional training/seminars; conducts field training for new compliance officers; serves on committees.

Operates personal computer &/or mobile device in the course of field and office duties (e.g., develops investigation reports, composes memorandums & correspondence); operates cameras; operates assigned state vehicle in accordance with established rules & regulations to travel to permit sites &/or licensed facilities; completes report of activities at intervals assigned by supervisor. Performs other duties as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications 

12 mos. trg. or 12 mos. exp. in investigative techniques & procedures; 3 mos. exp. in operation of personal computer; valid driver’s license.

-Or 12 mos. trg. or 12 mos. exp. in examining permit applications; 3 mos. exp. in operation of personal computer; valid driver’s license.

-Or equivalent of Minimum Class Qualifications For Employment noted above.

Major Worker Characteristics Knowledge of investigative techniques & procedures; Ohio Revised Codes & regulations & orders of liquor control commission applicable to conducting inspections of liquor permit premises*; rules of evidence*; public relations; interviewing. Skill in use of personal computer; Visio drawing cad program*; computer software installation*; camera (e.g., digital; Polaroid)*; measuring wheel*. Ability to define problems, collect data, establish facts & draw valid conclusions; conduct interviews effectively; prepare meaningful, concise & accurate reports; gather, collate & classify data; handle sensitive telephone & face-to-face contacts. (*) Developed after employment.

Supplemental Information The final candidate selected for this position will be required to undergo a criminal background check as well as other investigative reviews. Criminal convictions do not necessarily preclude an applicant from consideration for a position, unless restricted under state or federal law or federal restrictions. An individual assessment of an applicant’s prior criminal convictions will be made before excluding an applicant from consideration.

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Ohio may vote again on full legalization of marijuana

by Robin Ann Morris on

Ohioans may be voting again on full legalization of marijuana. Jimmy Gould, a backer of the 2015 statewide ballot issue, is expected to announce Monday that he and others are backing the “Free Market Adult Consumption of Marijuana” ballot issue in November 2018.

Ian James, Gould’s business partner at Green Light Acquisitions, LLC, said the amendment will seek to legalize adult use of marijuana and allow those 21 and older to own and operate cultivation, processing and dispensaries. It would be separate from Ohio’s new medical marijuana law, James said.

More details are expected to be released Monday at a press conference in Columbus.

To put a proposed constitutional amendment before the voters in November, the group would need to collect valid signatures from 305,592 registered Ohio voters by early July. Although that is a large number, it’s a hurdle the group has cleared in the past and James owns a petition circulating company.

Gould, James and other investors were the driving force behind ResponsibleOhio, the 2015 marijuana legalization issue that voters rejected by nearly a 2:1 margin. It was opposed by business, health, civic and political leaders as well as pro-marijuana advocates.

The group is also among the 97 applicants who were not awarded one of the 12 large-scale grower licenses for medical marijuana that the Ohio Department of Commerce announced last week.

“We plan to challenge the entire process and seek a complete review of all scores and re-assessment by new graders, with proper oversight, because this process is severely broken,” Gould said in a written statement after learning his company was not selected.

Cannabis Industry Jobs

The statement hinted at another ballot initiative.

In November 2015, voters rejected the ResponsibleOhio ballot issue calling for legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. But strong public support for medical marijuana as well as the threat of another ballot issue prompted lawmakers to craft a legal medical marijuana law.

In June 2016, Kasich signed a bill into law that authorizes use by patients with 21 conditions, including cancer or chronic pain, in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing. Patients and their caregivers will be allowed to possess up to a 90-day supply. Smoking or home growing it is barred.

The Medical Marijuana Control Program is jointly managed by the commerce department, pharmacy board and state medical board. Regulators have been busy writing rules and guidelines for growers, processors, testing labs, dispensaries, patients and caregivers as well as reviewing and scoring applications for licenses. It is expected to be fully operational by September 2018.

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Agri-Med Ohio cultivation center is opening in Meigs County

by Robin Ann Morris on

The growth of medical marijuana is coming to Southeast Ohio. What does that mean?

medical marijuana growing operation plans to open in Meigs County before September 2018 if all goes according to plan. The Vienna, West Virginia based company, Agri-Med Ohio LLC, is operated by CEO William Armstrong and COO Chris Campbell.

Langsville, Ohio is the company’s proposed site of operation.

These cultivation centers are opening up across Ohio in order to be in compliance with September 2016’s HB 523, which requires Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program is fully operation no later than September 2018 to ensure the public safety and product quality.

Eleven companies received Level 1 cultivation licenses, which allow for 25,000 square feet of land for the purpose of medical marijuana cultivation. A list of companies receiving Level 1 and 2 licenses can be found here.

Agri-Med Ohio LCC received a Level 2 cultivation license from The Ohio Department of Commerce. Level 2 status allows cultivators no more than 3,000 square feet space for medical marijuana cultivation. A total of twelve companies received a Level 2 status.

Black Elk, LCC, an Ohio-based company, applied for a Level 1 cultivation license to open up a cultivation site in Athens County. The Ohio Department of Commerce denied the business a cultivation license.

In an interview with The Athens News, Black Elk cofounder Chris Vince stated that he was disappointed in the Department of Commerce’s choice, citing that most of the companies that received cultivation licenses are based out-of-state.

Earlier this year, Black Elk Biotech, a subsidiary of Black Elk, LCC, awarded Ohio U a $1.85 million contract to research the therapeutic properties of natural products—including cannabis—as well as their effectiveness in treatment for various medical conditions.

It remains to be seen how the Department of Commerce’s decision to deny Black Elk, LCC a medical marijuana cultivation license will affect the research agreement between Ohio University’s Edison Biotechnology Institute and Black Elk Biotech.

The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy was tasked with determining the locations of 60 medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state. The Board of Pharmacy divided Ohio into four regions (Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast) and 31 different districts.

Notably, Southeast Ohio District 6, which includes Athens, Meigs and Vinton counties, will only have one dispensary. Nine companies submitted an application for the license.

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The Ohio Department of Commerce didn’t know it hired a consultant with a felony marijuana conviction to help score medical marijuana grow license applications but says the past offense didn’t undermine the agency’s process for awarding the highly sought-after licenses. 

The department plans to go ahead and award 24 cultivator licenses despite calls from state officials to freeze the program until the scoring process can be examined after it was revealed a scoring consultant had a felony drug conviction on his record.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the department should hire a third party, independent person or firm to investigate allegations of errors or wrongdoing with the program. But some involved in the program worry a freeze or lengthy investigation would delay the program for ill Ohioans who could benefit from the drug.

Felony didn’t taint process, department says

The department barred anyone with a felony drug conviction from applying for a medical marijuana cultivator license and required background checks of everyone with at least 1 percent interest in a cultivation company.

Trevor Bozeman, owner of iCann Consulting, pleaded guilty in 2005 in Pennsylvania to felony charges of possessing or manufacturing marijuana with intent to sell, court records show.

Department spokeswoman Stephanie Gostomski said Wednesday that the department did not know about the past conviction. The department’s request for proposals to assist in scoring did not ask applicants to disclose criminal convictions nor indicate a potential consultant would be subject to a background check.

Bozeman, now 33, was one of more than 20 reviewers who participated in the scoring process, Gostomski said. Bozeman has a doctorate in chemistry from Arizona State University and experience advising Maine’s medical marijuana program, according to the application he submitted to the state.

Reviewers were grouped by area of expertise and only reviewed some parts of the application, which did not include names of the company’s owners or other identifiable information. Gostomski said application reviewers awarded a score as a group, and none had more influence than any of the others.

The agency plans to use the same reviewers, including Bozeman, to score applications for medical marijuana testing labs and product manufacturers.

“It’s imperative to the integrity of the program to maintain uniformity moving forward, utilizing the same processes and reviewers,” Gostomski said.

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Ohio Auditor Dave Yost called Wednesday for a suspension of the issuance of licenses to larger medical marijuana growers while his officials investigate whether the hiring of a drug dealer to score the applications affected the award of licenses.

“This is an epic failure. I am outraged,” Yost said while calling for the Ohio Department of Commerce to promptly investigate the matter, perhaps by calling in Inspector General Randall J. Meyer.

“The only proper course of action is to freeze the process, and independently review the evaluation and scoring from the ground up. And the administration needs to explain how this drug dealer ended up telling the government how to run its fledgling medical marijuana program,” he said.

The two-term Republican Yost, a former Delaware County prosecutor who is running for attorney general, said his staff is gathering information about those hired to review applications and whether any “hiring errors impacted the grading of the license applications.” But, the matter deserves attention in a more-rapid fashion than his office can deliver since it is bound by auditing standards, he said.

“We can’t wait for a rear-view mirror audit. The commerce department needs to act today before this train leaves the station.”

In a statement, Department of Commerce spokeswoman Stephanie Gostomski said on Wednesday: “This was a careful, fair process which we fully and extensively explained in advance and are glad to do again to anyone with questions or concerns.”

Yost said the medical marijuana program needs to resolve questions and proceed in a timely manner because “we have kids out there with epilepsy looking for relief.”

Level 1 Cultivation Licensees

Yost’s attorney general opponent, Democrat Steve Dettelbach, also had called for a investigation, tweeting: “A convicted drug dealer was paid to help set up medical marijuana in Ohio! Did they think it was ‘relevant experience?!’ This needs to be thoroughly investigated.”

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Rep. Larry Householder, R-Glenford, also called for action Tuesday.

Taylor, who is running for governor, said in a statement that she is “outraged that a convicted drug dealer played a major role in determining who was suitable to receive a license. At a minimum, the integrity of the process has been called into question and it is unconscionable to imagine that this process would be allowed to continue until we have a full reckoning.”

State Rep. Larry Householder, a Republican from Glenford, said the state should “freeze the issuance of the medical-marijuana growers’ licenses until Ohioans can be assured this process has not been tainted.”

The controversy arose Tuesday when a company that failed to win a state license to grow medical marijuana criticized the state for hiring a man with a felony drug conviction to score the applications.

“The state of Ohio has a lot of explaining to do … they hired a convicted drug dealer for $150,000 to score applications for the Ohio medical-marijuana industry,” said Jimmy Gould, chairman of CannAscend Ohio, the rejected would-be cultivator.

“Did the Department of Commerce not think it important to check and report the fact that at least one of the scorers of the medical-marijuana control program had a criminal record for dealing drugs … did they require a background check to get a license, but not to give a license?” Gould asked in a statement.

Applicants to grow medical marijuana were required to undergo criminal background checks. But the state’s request for proposals, which led to contracts for Trevor Bozeman and two other scorers, did not make it a requirement to pass a criminal check for those scorers, records show.

Court records verified by The Dispatch show that a Trevor C. Bozeman was convicted of manufacturing, delivering and possessing drugs, with intent to manufacture or deliver, in Middleburg, Pennsylvania in 2005.

The records do not provide details of the offense. They also show misdemeanor charges of use and possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use, which were dismissed.

Bozeman, now 33 and of Brunswick, Maine, paid $2,131 in fines and costs and was placed on probation for three years, which court records show he successfully completed.

Ohio incorporation papers show that a Trevor Bozeman formed iCann Consulting, with a Dublin residential address, in late 2016. The Sawmill Road address that the company lists is a mailbox at a United Parcel Service store.

The company was one of three to receive a $150,000 state contract in June to score applications submitted by those seeking licenses to grow medical marijuana on such factors as finances, operating plans and security. Paperwork that Bozeman filed with the state said he holds a doctorate in chemistry and had prior experience with marijuana-grow operations in California and had served as an adviser in other states.

Messages seeking comment from Bozeman were left Tuesday at two telephone numbers listed in his name. He did not respond.

Gostomski said iCann Consulting appeared to meet all the requirements to receive the state contract and its scoring appeared to be done professionally.

CannAscend’s bid to win a medical-marijuana cultivation contract for a Wilmington facility was rejected after it scored poorly in evaluations and failed to meet requirements, Gostomski said.

Gould said the situation reflected “significant irregularities” that should be investigated. He was a founder of ResponsibleOhio, the group behind the failed 2015 ballot campaign to legalize recreational marijuana.

“This is the start of a billion-dollar industry and the fact that the start is marred by arbitrary and capricious irregularities is troubling and deserves a thorough and deep review,” he said.

The state recently awarded licenses for both small and large medical-marijuana grow operations. Medical marijuana is expected to be available legally in Ohio in about a year.

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