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Ohio Department of Commerce to Conduct Public Hearing on Proposed Amendments to Medical Marijuana Rules

On July 23, 2019, the Ohio Department of Commerce will conduct a public hearing regarding proposed amendments to several Medical Marijuana Control Program rules. The Medical Marijuana Control Program allows individuals with specified medical conditions, upon the recommendation of an Ohio-licensed physician, to purchase and use medical marijuana. The rules govern the activities of medical marijuana cultivators, processors, and testing laboratories. Such entities should be aware of the proposed changes, which may impact compliance with state building regulations, proper disposal of medical marijuana waste, information employers must submit to the department on new employees, and confidentiality of information obtained from investigations into medical marijuana practices. Although these rules are not likely to create significant changes in operations, one addition would allow for variances for violations of the rules when the variance is in the public interest and not inconsistent with a statute.

The provisions to be modified by the proposed amendments, along with the proposed new rule, are summarized below:

  1. Cultivator Certificate of Operation (§3796:2-1-06):  Medical marijuana cultivation activities are not considered “agriculture” for purposes of building exemptions. Accordingly, any building in which cultivation activities occur must be safe and sanitary, cultivators must appeal any issues related to their building standards to the certified local board of building appeals for their county, if one exists, and they must submit any plans for construction or alteration of buildings to their municipal, township, or county building department.

  2. Cultivator/Processor/Testing Laboratory Waste Disposal (§3796:2-2-03, §3796:3-2-03, §3796:4-2-06): The Department of Commerce proposed relaxed standards regarding who must supervise waste disposal activities. Consequently, cultivation, processor, and testing laboratory waste disposal would require only supervision from an individual with control and management over the day-to-day activities of the operations. Additionally, cultivators and processors must dispose of medical marijuana in a manner that makes it unusable, with disposal by surrender to the department’s director removed as an option.

  3. Employee Identification Cards (§3796:5-2-01):  The proposed amendment aims to simplify the process for onboarding employees with the Department of Commerce. Employers would need only to submit to the department a prospective employee’s completed application, a copy of the applicant’s driver’s license or state issued identification card establishing the individual is at least 21 years of age, the name of the employer, the application fee, and any additional information requested by the department in the application.

  4. Scope of Enforcement and Enforcement Powers (§3796:5-6-01):  The proposed amendment would remove the requirement that information obtained by the Department of Commerce subjecting employees and licensees to potential disciplinary action remain confidential. This amendment seeks to align with Ohio public records law, which generally compels disclosure of such information upon request by a member of the public.

  5. Variances (§3796:5-6-04):  Under the new proposed rule, the director of the Department of Commerce would have discretion to grant variances from the Medical Marijuana Control Program rules in cases in which granting the variance is in the public interest, the applicable provision is not mandated by statute, and the rule from which the variance is granted would, in the particular case, be unreasonable or unnecessarily burdensome.

The full notice of public hearing on the revised Medical Marijuana Control Program Rules can be found here.  

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About this Author

Daniel S. Zinsmaster, Dinsmore Law Firm, Health Care Lawyer

Dan provides trusted counsel and advocacy to health care clients on a variety of matters, such as corporate compliance, provider credentialing, administrative proceedings and litigation.  He also advises clients on practice formation and acquisition, as well as contract review and preparation.  In recent years, Dan has helped health care companies and providers navigate through fraud and abuse investigations, antitrust reviews, and other white collar criminal matters.  He is a frequent author and lecturer on telehealth and telemedicine issues.


(614) 628-6949
Sydney Pahren, Dinsmore Law Firm, Columbus, Corporate Law Attorney

Sydney is a member of Dinsmore’s Corporate Department, where she focuses her practice on health care law. 

She has experience researching legal issues in health care, litigation, labor & employment and corporate law. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law where she was an articles editor on the Ohio State Law Journal and an executive board member of the Black Law Students Association.