The Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association Supports the Advancement of Members

The Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association (OMCIA) is on a mission to advocate and educate on behalf of its members. The association works with regulators and the legislature to improve the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. That means it’s basically the voice of Ohio’s medical marijuana industry. Matt Close, the organization’s executive director, shares some rewards and challenges that come with supporting cannabis professionals in Ohio.

What types of businesses and professionals are members of the Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association?

Matt Close, executive director, Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association

We launched this trade association in 2019 and we have 33 members. We represent cultivators and processors, dispensaries, and ancillary members such as businesses that specialize in soil and lighting. 

Ancillary members consist of law firms, banks, and other groups that assist with the growth of the marijuana program in Ohio. 

The purpose of our trade association is to represent the licensees in Ohio. It’s a partnership with patients. 

There is no industry without both businesses and patients. The more we can do to make Ohio’s medical marijuana better will only benefit patients and the 6,000 plus employees that work in the industry. It’s important to support the growth of this industry. It’s an industry that now plays a role in supporting communities where they are located.

But as challenging as it was –  and is – to get the association going, I have to say that the people in the industry are amazing and wonderful people. They’re passionate, and everyone has diverse reasons for getting into the industry. 

It’s a very diverse industry and we’re working on ways to be more inclusive.

You joined the organization in 2019, after serving at the Ohio Department of Commerce for several years as chief of staff and assistant director. Was moving into the cannabis industry a difficult transition?

It was. I had spent 18 years working for the state of Ohio and starting a new association in a new industry was a difficult task.  

But I took on this role because I believe that it will benefit those that are looking for alternative ways of getting medicine.

I understand that you have a strong policy, political and regulatory background. Did you plan this career path when you were in college at Ohio State University?

No. I was a business major at The Ohio State University. I was in a business fraternity and I learned that going into the corporate field was not for me. 

I realized that I was not as interested in business as I was about policy, politics, and government. I decided to go work in state government and the legislature. I worked in the legislature and for the House of Ways and Means chairwoman.

Does the state of Ohio and other Midwest states have any challenges that are different from the West Coast and East Coast?

It depends upon the regulatory structure. In Ohio, we have a very strong regulatory structure. The problem is that the structure in place is outdated and has not dealt with the current market.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? 

I enjoy spending time with my family. I love attending sporting events, concerts, and playing golf.

What do you think of Ohio Senate Bill 9, which would increase grow spaces and licenses of current license holders in an already oversupplied market?

We don’t want to see what has happened in other states – which is an oversupplied market. This bill should not pass. 

Why did your organization support the Ohio Cannabis Health & Business Summit?

Health and business is the industry. It’s for patients.  It’s for the industry and for employees in the industry. We have 6000 plus employees in the state of Ohio, not to mention the tangential aspects of a growing industry. Those companies that surround a facility are benefitting. People in the industry are making good wages. 

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