How To Open a Dispensary In Ohio

Overview

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 request for dispensary applications, which may license up to 73 new medical marijuana dispensaries. The Board is now taking applications for provisional medical dispensary licenses until November 18, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. This is preceded by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy voting on April 19 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.

Two Democrats, Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and Rep. Terrance Upchurch (D-Cleveland), introduced House Bill 382, a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio. “This bill is much needed in Ohio,” according to Rep. Upchurch. “This bill is more than just about legalization, it’s about economic and workforce development, it’s about decriminalization, and it’s about healthcare! The time is now, and I look forward to getting this done in a bipartisan fashion.”

Meanwhile, another effort by supporters of Ohio marijuana legalization called the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol cleared its second obstacle on August 30 after the Ohio Ballot Board voted to approve the proposed statute as a single issue. On January 28, 2022, the Ohio secretary of state said that the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had finally received enough signatures this time to put the issue in front of the state legislature. 

On May 13th, a group supporting the legalization of marijuana in Ohio struck a deal with state authorities, which means that the issue will not be on the ballot in November 2022. The legalization of marijuana will instead be delayed until 2023 by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. By accepting the coalition’s more than 140,000 signatures, state authorities have decided not to require them to start over from scratch. If the marijuana legalization initiative is not acted upon by the legislature by April 2023, it will be placed on the ballot for November 2023, provided that the organization is able to gather the second wave of signatures required.

How big is the opportunity?

According to the Marijuana Business Factbook, MMJ sales in Ohio are projected to reach $350-$425 million in 2021. By 2022 or 2023, MMJ sales are predicted to increase to half a billion dollars a year. Another 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.

Local Cannabis Restrictions & Laws

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.

Medical Marijuana Program Opportunities

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 8, 2016. The bill can be viewed here

The passage of this law assigned three agencies to share regulatory oversight:

  • Department of Commerce to develop rules for licensing and regulating cultivators, processors, and testing labs 
  • Board of Pharmacy to oversee patient and caregiver registry and in charge of licensing retail dispensaries
  • State Medical Board to oversee physicians and issues them a “certificate to recommend”

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 9, 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

As of December 27, 2021, the number of registered patients in the state increased to 231,165 — 15,445 of which are patients with veteran status, 17,023 patients with indigent status, and 961 patients 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 December 22, 2021, 22 level I cultivator licenses, 14 level II cultivator licenses, 58 dispensaries licenses, 46 processors licenses, and 11 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

Medical Marijuana Dispensary License Application

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 is:

  • To be considered for a dispensary license in Ohio, applications and all documents must be submitted electronically. This is available at www.medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov/dispensaries/.
  • Each application must include a $5,000 application fee. Applicants shall only be awarded a number of provisional dispensary licenses for which they demonstrate sufficient liquid assets in their submissions to the Board.
  • The Board will conduct a lottery to award provisional dispensary licenses.

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.

Recreational Use Legalization

As mentioned above, there are now two efforts to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Ohio – House Bill 382 by Rep. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, and state Rep. Terrence Upchurch, D-Cleveland, and An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

Under the proposed HB 382, adults over 21 years old will be allowed to grow up to 12 plants and purchase and possess up to five ounces of marijuana. It focuses on decriminalization, marijuana excise tax, commerce and licensing, and medical marijuana. The bill hasn’t been referred to a committee yet. Once referred, it must get a majority vote to proceed to the legislative process.

A separate effort, An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis, would also allow the purchase and possession of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants for adults 21 and older. Existing medical marijuana businesses could seek recreational marijuana licenses, allowing sales to begin swiftly. The effort has successfully cleared its first two obstacles — when petition language was approved by Attorney General Dave Yost on Aug. 20 and when the Ohio Ballot Board, headed by Secretary of State Frank LaRose, approved the proposed statute as a single issue on Aug. 30. 

As mentioned above, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted an additional 29,918 signatures after failing to get enough in early January 2022. If a sufficient number of legitimate signatures are obtained, legislators will have four months to act on the proposal. If legislators fail to act, the group will be able to collect another 133,000 signatures to place an issue on the statewide ballot.

In the upcoming weeks and through 2022, 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.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • How much will it cost to open a dispensary in Ohio?
  • What are the requirements to get a marijuana business license and open a dispensary in Ohio?
  • What special programs will be available?
  • And more

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