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Hocking College ready to serve as medical cannabis testing site

(September 5, 2017) — Hocking College will house the state’s medical marijuana testing laboratory, plugging a gap in the process to legalize its sale, pending approval from the State of Ohio.

The two-year technical college, in Nelsonville in Hocking County, will satisfy the state law that went into effect last September requiring an Ohio college or university to test cannabis for “potency, homogeneity and contamination” before going to dispensaries for sale. That phase is supposed to be in effect for a year before switching the job to private testing labs.

“In addition to the legislative mandate, Hocking College’s role will be to ensure public safety by providing the necessary lab services that will assure access to a safe medical product to the citizens of Ohio,” college President Betty Young said in a statement.

This is not a done deal yet. Hocking College must submit the lab application to the State of Ohio next week, where they have 90 days to make a decision.

Dr. Jonathan Cachat will be the director of the testing lab and will work with the college to develop the laboratory science curriculum and undergraduate research.

“The decision to lead this medical cannabis lab effort was not based on the merits or lack of merits regarding cannabis,” Young said.

The college will make an endowment to supply the funds for laboratory equipment, renovation and initial operations. The lab also will create more than a dozen new jobs for the local community in southeast Ohio.

Some Ohio higher education institutions, such as Ohio State University, were hesitant to get involved as the medical cannabis testing site because of state and federal laws regarding marijuana.

The Ohio Department of Commerce is overseeing much of the medical marijuana program, which will allow people with any of 21 illnesses and other qualifying medical conditions to acquire up to a 90-day supply of marijuana for vaping (not smoking), as an oil, patch or in edible form. Doctors must issue a recommendation for marijuana to qualifying patients, but cannot technically prescribe the drug because of federal regulations.