When Will Ohioans Get Medicinal Marijuana?; Plus More News

Hint: It won't be by the state's Sept. 8 deadline

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click to enlarge Pretty much any excuse to  use this weed unicorn illustration is a good one, right? - Illustration: CityBeat/Julie Hill
Illustration: CityBeat/Julie Hill
Pretty much any excuse to use this weed unicorn illustration is a good one, right?

Hello all! I hope you had an amazing long weekend and were able to celebrate Labor Day properly by like, setting off fireworks and drinking beers. I swam too much at Ziegler Pool — which is miraculously still open for a couple more weeks — and had too much Putz’s soft serve. My union-proud grandpa would have approved. Now it’s back to the grind. Let’s catch up on news, shall we?

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac today told Cincinnati City Council’s Law and Public Safety Committee that the tasing of an 11-year-old girl by off-duty CPD officer Kevin Brown was “unnecessary” and likely violated the department’s policies. You can read more about the incident, and what comes next, in our story here.

• Cincinnati will get a visit from a possible Democratic Party presidential contender this coming Saturday when Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti swings through. Garcetti isn’t a lock for the 2020 presidential primary, but says he’s mulling a possible run for the Democratic Party’s nomination. If his travel plans are any indication, he’s thinking pretty seriously about it — he’s hit up the all-important primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa and will make several stops in the Buckeye State, including in Akron, Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown. Garcetti will participate in a panel discussion on public transit, speak at a get-out-the vote event at the Cincinnati Firefighters Union hall downtown, give remarks at an Ohio Democratic Party fundraiser at the Queen City Club and, of course, take a tour of Over-the-Rhine. He’s not the only potential Democratic Party presidential contender to drop by recently: former Vice President Joe Biden swung through in June and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris will be here in October to speak at an NAACP event at Duke Energy Convention Center.

• Here’s some ominous news for Cincinnati’s streetcar: its main advertising sponsor is unhappy with the transit project’s performance. Cincinnati Bell holds a 10-year, $3.4 million contract for naming rights on the streetcar… sorry, the "Cincinnati Bell Connector." But rumors rippled last week that the company was considering cancelling that contract. That’s not the case just yet, the company said in a statement reported by The Cincinnati Business Courier. But it’s also not thrilled.

“Cincinnati Bell has concerns about the streetcar’s performance, which we have shared with the city,” the company said in that statement. “At this time, however, no decision has been made regarding our sponsorship.”

The contract provides a good portion of the streetcar’s annual $4.5 million operating budget, and its loss would be another blow to the 3.6-mile transit system running through downtown and OTR. The cars have been hobbled by low ridership, cold weather operating difficulties and service delays often caused by traffic snags. Also not helping: the complex tangle of organizations (the city, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority and operating contractor Transdev) that oversee the streetcar. The city is working to hire an executive director who would in some ways unify the rail project’s operations.

• Greater Cincinnati’s tourism economy soared last year, according to a new report commissioned by the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network. That report, completed by Tourism Economics and Longwoods International, found that people visiting the Queen City and surrounding areas generated $5.3 billion in economic activity in 2017 and supported 80,000 jobs in the region. All told, the report calculates that 26.6 million people visited Greater Cincinnati last year, mostly from nearby areas but also from cities like Chicago and New York City. The activity created more than $1.2 billion in tax revenues.

• Folks eligible for legal medicinal marijuana use under legislation passed by Ohio lawmakers will have to wait a little longer than expected to buy the medication. The state’s system won’t be ready by the Sept. 8 deadline set by the law legalizing medicinal weed and setting up a network of growers, processors and dispensaries, state officials admit. Only four of the 26 growers have received and passed inspections that allowed them to plant their crops. And only 10 of the 100 processing businesses that applied to be allowed to convert the plants into oils and edibles have met the state’s requirements. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the state’s medicinal marijuana law Sept. 8, 2016, giving the state two years to get its system up and running. Timelines have varied significantly for the other 30 that have legalized medicinal marijuana use — from five months to five years. Ohio’s process has been hobbled by lawsuits, scoring errors and other problems. State officials haven’t set a date for when medicinal weed will become legally available, but many think it could happen by the end of the year.

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