Reports that public colleges and universities won’t test medical marijuana have caused concern among advocates, but Hocking College has stepped up to the task.
Hocking College announced its plan Tuesday afternoon to become licensed to test medical marijuana.
“We recognize that this is a bold leadership decision and one that we have not taken lightly,” Betty Young, the college’s president, said at a press conference.
Young said Hocking College has a "storied tradition" of embracing new technology and responding to industry needs.
“The research and academic potential of serving as the lab testing site will support the kind of hands-on, high-tech training that is the hallmark of Hocking College,” Young said in a news release.
Hocking College will also launch a new laboratory sciences program next fall. It will offer cannabis lab technology as a major. Young called the program the first of its kind in the country.
Hocking College will create an endowment to pay for laboratory equipment, renovation and initial operations.
The Ohio Department of Commerce will accept testing applications from Sept. 11-22. Until Sept. 11, 2018, the department will only issue licenses to public institutions of higher education in Ohio. After that date, the department will begin issuing licenses to private testing labs.
Applicants must pay a $2,000 application fee. A certificate of operation costs $18,000, and labs must pay an annual license renewal fee of $20,000.
Hocking College did not base its decision to pursue a license on what it believed to be “the merits or lack of merits regarding cannabis,” Young said in the news release. The college’s goal is to fulfill the state’s requirement that a public college or university hosts a testing lab.
“In addition to the legislative mandate, Hocking College’s role will be to ensure public safety by providing necessary lab services that will assure access to a safe medical product to the citizens of Ohio,” Young said in the news release.
Jonathan Cachat, president and CEO of CCV Research, will serve as the testing lab’s director if the Department of Commerce accepts Hocking College's application. Cachat holds a doctorate in neuroscience from Tulane University. Hocking College is also working with Cachat to develop a laboratory science curriculum and undergraduate research.
“I applaud the state of Ohio for getting medical marijuana regulation in place legislatively,” Cachat said at Tuesday's press conference.
Multiple news outlets have reported that public colleges and universities throughout the state have not voiced any intentions to test medical marijuana. The University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University, Cleveland State University and Kent State University have no plans to pursue testing, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported in March.
CCV Research announced in August that it hoped to partner with a public college to operate a testing lab, but wouldn’t provide a name. The company wanted to quell concerns that Ohio’s medical marijuana program would fall behind schedule following reports that public colleges and universities would not test the substance, according to a Dayton Daily News report.
Much of the wariness has come from conflicting federal and state law. The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the same classification as heroin and LSD. The agency defines Schedule I drugs as those with “no currently accepted medical use and high potential for abuse," according to its website.
Correction: A previous version of this report misspelled Jonathan Cachat's name. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.