Auditor wants state to stop issuing marijuana grow licenses

Auditor says consultant is 'convicted drug dealer'

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio's auditor wants the state to stop issuing licenses for medical marijuana growers after he discovered that one of the three consultants viewing applications pleaded guilty to a drug charge in another state.

"This is an epic failure. I am outraged," Auditor David Yost said in a news release Wednesday. "The only proper course of action is to freeze the process, and independently review the evaluation and scoring from the ground up."

Yost cites "media reports" that say Trevor Bozeman -- a consultant hired by the Dept. of Commerce to evaluate applications for marijuana grow licenses -- pleaded guilty to possession with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance in Pennsylvania. The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a story Tuesday that delved into Bozeman's criminal background.

According to criminal filings, Bozeman pleaded guilty to the drug charge in Feb. 2005 in Snyder County, Pennsylvania.

Bozeman, of Maine, has also worked as a marijuana consultant in his home state.

Yost said the "entire program is tainted." 

Jimmy Gould, the chairman and CEO of CannAscend, has been involved in the application process for more than four years. He was denied a license to grow.

Despite that, Gould said he wants an oversight committee to look at the hiring process. 

"This is a backwards system," he said. "It's broken."

Officials with the state Commerce Department said all the consulting companies met the standards provided in their contracts, which are set by the state general assembly.

For Ohio residents waiting for medical marijuana, it seems like the latest blow in a never-ending battle. Nicole Scholten believes medical marijuana will help people like her daughter, Lucy, with her seizures.

"It doesn't look good, that's for sure, but that is not a reason to slow this program down," Scholten said.

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