Lawsuit challenges ‘racial quota’ in Ohio marijuana program

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FILE – In this Feb. 17, 2016 file photo, plants grow at the home of Jeremy Nickle, owner of Hawaiian Holy Smokes, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Hawaii says it will be the first state to require marijuana transactions to be handled without cash. Hawaii state officials said Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, medical marijuana dispensaries won’t be […]

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A company that wasn’t chosen among the dozen big medical marijuana growers in Ohio’s new program is challenging the state requirement that 15 percent of those licenses go to minority-owned groups.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the lawsuit filed last month alleges Hilliard-based PharmaCann Ohio Inc. was bumped from the list of successful applicants because “an unconstitutional racial quota” elevated companies that scored lower in the bid rankings. PharmaCann is asking a county judge to block the state from using such quotas to determine licenses.

Experts have questioned whether the quota would stand in court.

The state Department of Commerce asked the court to dismiss PharmaCann’s lawsuit, arguing that getting a state license to grow marijuana isn’t a federal right and that the company didn’t appeal the department’s licensing decision.

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