A Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Ohio State University is teaming up with two other Ohio football luminaries to build Cleveland-area medical marijuana dispensaries.

Troy Smith, who won college football’s top honors in 2006, is a partner with Ted Ginn Sr., his football coach at Glenville High School, and former Cleveland Browns player Eric Metcalf. They’ve teamed up with Jim Buchanan, a former Cleveland resident who runs a marijuana dispensary near Seattle.

“For me it’s definitely kind of simple,” Smith said. “The head trauma that I have been suffering since the age of 7 and not understanding back then what a migraine was, and understanding now the differences between the daily life and being a regular person and having that type of trauma being a part of your life – it’s black and white, you know. It makes sense.”

Buchanan was one of just two speakers Wednesday at a hearing about the Ohio Board of Pharmacy’s proposed rules on dispensaries. The other was a lawyer from Columbus law firm Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter.

Buchanan’s Emerald Haze recreational dispensary opened April 20, 2015, in Renton, Washington, and he has plans to open four more. He was generally positive about Ohio’s process of legalizing marijuana for certain conditions, telling officials it has gone smoothly and timely compared to other states.

He said he is concerned, however, that the proposed 15 percent set-aside for minority entrepreneurs could be abused.

Buchanan said he wants the state to “take strong looks at applications that might appear to be juggling to take advantage of and find loopholes in the way the law has been submitted,” he said during the meeting. Ohio should also double the number of the 60 dispensaries it so far is considering.

“Sixty for a state? Wow. Take those and spread them out – how many in Columbus? It’s the biggest city. How many in Cleveland? When you start, man, it starts to be really spotty,” he told reporters after his public comments. “How far does a person have to drive for medicine?”

The hearing lasted just 17 minutes, though there was a seven-hour window allocated to the hearing.

Buchanan and his partners are eyeing South Euclid, Cleveland, Warrensville Heights and Lakewood for dispensaries.

From left, Jim Buchanan, Ted Ginn Sr. and Troy Smith are working together.

Ginn Sr., whose Cleveland high school is a football powerhouse and often funnels players to Ohio State, said he’s interested in the educational aspect of medical marijuana and giving jobs to people.

He is a cancer survivor. It’s one of the 20 illnesses for which Ohioans could use marijuana.

His son, Ted Ginn Jr., was a star Buckeye wide receiver and return man who played with Smith. Ginn Jr. now plays for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.

“One thing we don’t want is for a program like this to come through and the African-American community doesn’t understand all the intricate parts – all the benefits, the medical benefits, economical benefits, education, etc. etc.,” Buchanan said.

The public comments will be sent to the legislature’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, which will be the last stop before dispensary rules must be finalized in September. After that, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy will begin taking applications for one of the 60 licenses.

Dispensary application fees are $5,000.

The Ohio Department of Commerce, which will regulate the state’s cultivation sites, received 185 applications for the 24 sites.

The entire medical marijuana program must be operational by September 2018.


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