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Ohio Judge Rules Law Requiring Some Minority Owned Cannabis Businesses Is Unconstitutional

A law requiring a certain number of cannabis businesses in Ohio must be owned by racial minorities is now in limbo after being ruled unconstitutional by a judge.

Ohio Judge Charles A. Schneider ruled that the state's law requiring 15 percent of cannabis businesses to be owned by racial minorities is unconstitutional. Schneider said the rule imposed an unnecessary burden on a new industry for the state.

"The court finds the 15 percent set aside is not insignificant and the burden to be excessive for a newly created industry with limited participants," Schneider said in his decision.

The decision was made after a cannabis company that was denied a license to grow and sell medical marijuana in Ohio sued the state and challenged the 15 percent rule. When Ohio launched their medical marijuana market, they allowed 12 licenses to grow and sell medicinal cannabis. Of those 12 licenses, two went to companies owned by minorities.

Now Ohio's Department of Commerce will need to determine what to do next. They could appeal Schneider's ruling and attempt to reinstate the 15 percent law. Or they could simply give out more licenses for medical marijuana companies, and hopefully if the industry is more open, the 15 percent law won't be considered unconstitutional. 

Many states institute regulations requiring a certain number of cannabis businesses to be owned and operating by minorities, since the vast majority of victims of America's War on Drugs are black or hispanic. But this is one of the first times those regulations have been challenged in court.



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