Pubdate: Wed, 07 Oct 2015
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Jennifer Smola


A nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research on cannabis 
plans to build a $24 million medical-marijuanaresearch facility at a 
proposed Licking County grow site if voters approve ResponsibleOhio's 
marijuana-legalization amendment this fall.

Work at the International Cannabinoid Institute Research Foundation 
would 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 owner of the 
proposed site 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 that 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 of 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," 
Sisley 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 the 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 on 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 owner of the Pataskala site, Greenlee said.

"We like Ohio, we prefer Ohio, we're going to do everything we can to 
get Issue 3 passed."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom