By Jennifer Smola, The Columbus Dispatch
Source: Columbus Dispatch
medical Columbus -- A nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research on cannabis plans to build a $24 million medical-marijuana-research facility at a proposed Licking County grow site if voters approve ResponsibleOhio’s marijuana-legalization amendment this fall.
Work at International Cannabinoid Institute Research Foundation will focus on marijuana-centered therapies for certain medical conditions, such as childhood epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
The nonprofit group would lease 15 acres from the property owner of the Licking County site, located in Pataskala, for the 40,000-square foot facility, the group announced on Tuesday at a news conference outside the Statehouse.
ICI began working on its flagship research facility in 2013. After the ResponsibleOhio amendment was proposed, the group decided to work the facility into the confines of the ballot initiative, said ICI founder Garrett Greenlee.
ICI seeks to prioritize medical-marijuana patients, Greenlee said. Because the amendment would legalize personal as well as medical-marijuana use, the nonprofit was concerned patients would get “ lost in the shuffle,” he said.
“We promise to be great stewards of the medical program here in Ohio.”
The ICI facility would offer a safe, protected place for long-term studies on the effectiveness of medical marijuana, said Dr. Suzanne Sisley, who researches potential uses of marijuana to treat veterans with post traumatic stress disorder and will serve on the board of directors for ICI’s research foundation.
“Ohio, you have a golden opportunity in front of you right now,” she said. “You could move to the very forefront of the most important marijuana research happening in this country.”
Pataskala Mayor Mike Compton, who has opposed the proposed marijuana farm in his city, said he’s more comfortable with the idea of a facility strictly dedicated to medical research, but not if it bleeds into recreational use.
“I don’t think we always get the full and the straight story,” he said.
Issue 3 would legalize the purchase and recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 or older as well as possession and use of medical marijuana for people with a qualifying medical condition. The cultivation end of the for-profit business would be controlled by 10 investment groups that have bought into the business by making multimillion-dollar investments in the campaign.
In a statement Tuesday, Licking County Chamber of Commerce President Cheri Hottinger said the research facility doesn’t change the group’s opposition to the marijuana issue.
“Today’s announcement by the financial backers of the marijuana monopoly is yet another attempt to divert attention away from the negative aspects of Issue 3’s morally bankrupt proposal,” the statement said. “This announcement has no bearing on our staunch opposition to Issue 3.”
If Issue 3 fails, ICI would look to build its research facility in a state where marijuana is legal, Greenlee said.
But if the issue passes, ICI has long-term plans; the group has agreed to a 99-year lease with the Pataskala site land owner, Greenlee said.
“We like Ohio, we prefer Ohio, we’re going to do everything we can to get Issue 3 passed.”
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Author: Jennifer Smola, The Columbus Dispatch
Published: Wednesday October 7, 2015
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch