Two Ohio colleges have taken major first steps toward becoming fully certified medical cannabis testing lab facilities, winning provisional licenses from the Ohio Department of Commerce to build and operate the state’s first medical marijuana testing labs.
Central State University and Hocking Technical College received the first provisional licenses and are already building degree programs for students interested in the medical cannabis industry.
Hocking College and Central State University Will Be The First State Testing Labs For Medical Marijuana
The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program says the state can license an unlimited number of lab testing facilities. But only nine applicants have so far sought those licenses.
And of those nine, only two are public institutions, Hocking College and Central State University. OMMCP has yet to issue an announcement regarding the private laboratories that have applied for testing licenses.
But the state has awarded provisional licenses to the two colleges that will become Ohio’s first medical marijuana testing labs. Ohio is prioritizing licensing for institutions of higher education that are public and located within the state.
For universities, that prioritization also presents an opportunity to develop new programs and majors focused on the medical marijuana industry.
Colleges Will Develop Medical Cannabis Programs Alongside Lab Testing Facilities
Hocking College, located in Nelsonville, Ohio and just down the road from Ohio University, has led the pack of Ohio universities seeking to build working relationships with the state’s nascent medical marijuana industry.
Dr. Cachat, who will lead the development of the new cannabis curriculum, said “this is a time for producers and growers to establish a relationship with Hocking College to provide quality laboratory services while demonstrating a commitment to public education and workforce development.”
In doing so, Hocking College joins a nationwide trend in higher education. More colleges and universities are beginning to establish majors and programs of study to provide students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the rapidly expanding legal cannabis industry.
Hocking has already developed two new associate degrees for laboratory technicians. Both have received approval from the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
And Hocking is currently waiting on approval for a third track. Their Cannabis Lab Technician degree, if approved, would also be among the first of its kind.
Testing Labs At Public Institutions Benefit Medical Cannabis Patients, Experts Say
A rocky and controversy-laden licensing process has marred the initial stages of Ohio’s medical marijuana program. But experts and researchers say the state did the right thing prioritizing licensing for publicly-held labs over private companies.
When states rely too much on private laboratories, they open themselves up to risks associated with what Dr. Cachat calls “lab shopping.”
Lab shopping, Cachat says, introduces the incentive for companies to pay higher prices to push their products to market. Labs will commonly boost potency results and inaccurately assess pesticide and solvent levels for clients who pay a premium.
This, Cachat says, hurts patients. But public labs, he says, protect patients from the risks of lab shopping.
So far, neither Hocking College nor Central Valley University has expressed any concern about a loss of federal funding due to their participation in Ohio’s medical marijuana program.