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.