Springfield woman sues, claims discrimination on marijuana license

7:00 p.m Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 Crime

A local businesswoman has sued the state of Ohio, state agencies and state officials, claiming they’re not enforcing the new medical marijuana laws fairly.

Ohio is the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana, even though it’s still illegal to use under federal laws. The state’s law doesn’t allow marijuana to be smoked or grown at home. It will have to be used in patches, vapors, edibles or other forms.

Several cities, including Springfield, placed bans on the business while they explored the effects the industry would have on the jurisdictions. The city allowed the moratorium to expire in at the end of September.

Clark, Champaign and Union counties have been allotted a total of two dispensaries — essentially a retail store where medical marijuana will be distributed, according to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program.

READ MORESpringfield medical pot advocate: End to ban good for business

Renea Murnahan-Turner is the chief executive officer of Cannabis for Cures, LLC. She also owns Voodoo Moon and Al Cachino’s Brew House in downtown Springfield.

It could have been a future dispensary site but she said her application wasn’t processed because allegedly she didn’t include electronic versions of her application. That wasn’t on an application checklist, she said, but was listed online.

She and her business sued the Ohio Department of Commerce, Ohio Board of Pharmacy, state Sen. Dave Burke and Gov. John Kasich.

The lawsuit seeks $50 million in damages from the state, which it claims is the estimation of lost wages if the business was granted a license.

The Springfield News-Sun contacted the defendants in the lawsuits but they either declined to comment or didn’t return calls.

The lawsuit alleges the departments discriminated against the business because it’s owned by a woman.

“Federally, women are considered an economically disadvantaged minority,” Turner said.

But the state didn’t include women in its minorities for licenses. According to a state website, at least 15 percent of the cultivator, processor or laboratory licenses will go to Ohioans in one of the following economically disadvantaged groups: African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics or Latinos and Asians.

Not including women as a minority makes it hard to become a business owner in the industry, Turner said.

The lawsuit also alleges the department has allowed out-of-state applications for licenses. The Springfield News-Sun contacted several state agencies to ask if it had out-of-state companies applying but none would release that information because licenses haven’t been issued yet.

“I want all Ohioans to have a fighting chance in this and have an involvement in this,” Turner said. “The Ohio House Bill 523 was structured for Ohioans to be successful, for Ohioans to benefit from this and rebuild their communities to revitalize Ohio.”

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