Are you wondering how to open a dispensary in Ohio? Perhaps, another type of cannabis business and would like to better understand requirements and next steps? This page is dedicated to providing you up to date information and insights regarding the state of Ohio cannabis industry.
On September 19th, 2021, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and Medical Marijuana Control Program issued a request for dispensary applications, which may license up to 73 new medical marijuana dispensaries. This is preceded by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy voting on April 19, 2021 to increase the state’s current number of medical dispensaries from 57 to a total of 130. Among the reasons behind the increase are high product demand and an increase in the patient population. The board also wanted to increase access for patients who live far from current dispensaries and create more competition to drive prices down. On November 18th, 2022, the application period for provisional licenses to operate medical dispensaries closed.
On July 27th, 2021, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) filed an initiative, also known as An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis, that aims to legalize recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 or older in Ohio. The campaign submitted signatures on December 20th, 2021, but fell short by 13,062 signatures. They had until January 14th, 2022, to collect more. On January 28th, 2022, enough signatures were obtained, allowing the issue to go to the state legislature.
On May 13th, 2022, CTRMLA reached an agreement with state authorities, postponing the marijuana legalization issue from the November 2022 ballot to 2023. They retained their more than 140,000 signatures and weren’t required to start over. However, the Ohio General Assembly didn’t decide on the initiative by the May 3rd, 2023 deadline, forcing the campaign to restart signature collection to secure ballot placement.
On May 22nd, 2023, Ohio State Reps. Casey Weinstein and Jamie Callender have introduced a new adult-use cannabis legalization bill. House Bill 168 expands on previous legislation discussed in the 2022 legislative session, aligning with the legalization efforts led by the CTRMLA, who are striving to bring an adult-use legalization measure before voters in 2023.
On August 3rd, 2023, Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) submitted additional signatures for a marijuana legalization initiative after a previous attempt fell short. The new batch, which includes over 6,000 signatures, aims to put the initiative on the November ballot. The CTRMLA initially submitted 220,000 signatures on July 25th but was 679 short after verification.
On August 16th, 2023, the Ohio secretary of state’s office declared that the matter of legalizing recreational marijuana will be included in Ohio’s November general election ballot. On August 24th, Ohio officials unanimously agreed on the language. The Ohio Ballot Board voted 5-0 to adopt the summary, which had been prepared by the secretary of state’s office. The summary, referred to as Issue 2, outlines the initiative’s intent to legalize and regulate various aspects of cannabis use, possession, and cultivation for adults aged 21 and above.
On August 29th, 2023, a survey by Fallon Research & Communications was released and revealed that 59 percent of registered Ohio voters support a cannabis reform proposal. This survey highlights a noteworthy shift: GOP voters now favor legalization more, and overall opposition has decreased compared to a July poll.
A forecast from Statistica estimates Ohio marijuana sales value to reach roughly 1.3 billion dollars in 2025. With roughly 12 million residents, a limited licensing structure, and current efforts for recreational legalization, it’s evident this will be a promising state to start a cannabis business.
Under House Bill 523, local governments are allowed to adopt restrictions within their corporation limits. Here’s a list of Ohio cities, towns, counties & municipalities that have placed a moratorium on cannabis establishments. Meanwhile, more cities have adopted decriminalization measures at the local level such as Adena, Glouster, Jacksonville, Trimble, and more.
On November 8th, 2022, voters in five different cities in Ohio supported ballot measures to decriminalize marijuana on the local level. Voters in Kent, Corning, Hemlock, Shawnee, Laurelville, and Rushville made decisions about the decriminalization of marijuana. With the exception of Hemlock, all of the jurisdictions approved decriminalization.
In May 2023, Helena, Ohio, a city of around 200 people, approved a local ballot measure decriminalizing marijuana. This adds to the growing number of Ohio localities that have decriminalized marijuana through local ballots.
In June 2016, Ohio became the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana after Gov. John Kasich signed into law H.B. 523, establishing the framework in the state. The law came into effect on September 8th, 2016. The bill can be viewed here.
The passage of this law assigned three agencies to share regulatory oversight:
Patients hoping to use marijuana for medicinal purposes must be 18 years of age or older, a resident of Ohio, and diagnosed with a qualifying condition such as AIDS/HIV, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and cancer. On June 9th, 2021, Huntington’s disease, terminal illness, and spasticity were added to the list. For a specific list of conditions to be eligible for a medical marijuana card in Ohio, view here.
Since the program began in 2019, Ohio has witnessed 377,384 patients registered for medical marijuana as of June 30, 2023. 22,342 are patients with veteran status, 23,405 with indigent status and 1,346 with a terminal diagnosis.
There are four cannabis business license types issued in Ohio: cultivator license, processor license, dispensary license, and laboratory testing license. As of July 31, 2023, 23 level I cultivator licenses, 14 level II cultivator licenses, 92 with Certificates of Operation dispensaries and 41 active provisional dispensary licenses , 46 provisional processors licenses, and 10 provisional testing licenses have been granted.
Medical Marijuana Retail Dispensaries are permitted to acquire medical marijuana from processors and dispense or sell it to patients. To open a retail dispensary, costs include $5,000 for the application fee, $80,000 for the licensure fee, and $80,000 for the renewal fee. For more information about Ohio marijuana dispensaries, see here.
As mentioned above, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy may license up to 73 new medical marijuana dispensaries. According to the 2021 Request for Applications and Dispensary Application Instructions, other information that is needed for the license application process are:
For more information, you can check the document here.
Medical Marijuana Cultivators are permitted to cultivate, deliver or sell medical marijuana to processors. Costs associated with a Cultivator Level 1 are $20,000 for the application fee, $180,000 for the initial licensure fee, and $200,000 for the renewal fee. For a Cultivator Level 2, $2,000 for the application fee, $18,000 for the initial licensure fee, and $20,000 for the renewal fee. The application period for the cultivator license is closed. For more information about Ohio marijuana cultivators, see here.
Medical Marijuana Processors are permitted to acquire medical marijuana from cultivators, process it for dispensing, and deliver or sell it to retail dispensaries. The application fee for a processor is $10,000, the certificate of operation fee is $90,000 and the annual license renewal fee is $100,000. The application period for processor license is closed. For more information about Ohio marijuana processors, see here.
Medical Marijuana Laboratories are permitted to acquire medical marijuana from licensed cannabis businesses and conduct testing on the marijuana. The application fee for the laboratory is $2,000, the certificate of operation fee is $18,000 and the laboratory annual license renewal fee is $20,000. The application period for a laboratory license is closed. For more information about Ohio marijuana dispensaries, see here.
On December 6th, 2022, a quick hearing on two marijuana legalization bills—HB382 led by Democrats and HB498 by Republicans—was held by Ohio lawmakers. Although they differ significantly from one another, the two measures would tax and regulate cannabis for individuals over the age of 21. Neither plan was anticipated to be approved during this session, but the meeting offered the chance to hear discussion on cannabis reforms that several politicians portrayed as inevitable as campaigners prepare to possibly put a legalization initiative on the ballot in November 2023. However, both proposed bills failed to become law on December 31st, 2022.
On July 27, 2021, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted an initiative with a ballot title “An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis.” The initiative aims to legalize recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 or older in Ohio, allowing them to grow six plants at home or up to 12 plants per household, and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. However, as previously mentioned, the Ohio General Assembly failed to make a decision on the initiative by the May 3, 2023 deadline, which means the initiative campaign should restart their signature collection efforts.
In the upcoming weeks and through 2023, we anticipate many new events to unfold that will affect when and what recreational legalization will look like. By adding yourself to our Ohio Cannabis Mailing List (below), we will keep you updated on how to open a dispensary in Ohio and all relevant OH news that matters, not-so-easy-to-find news, and comments based on Ohio Legalization below.
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