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  • Christopher D.

Ohio Marijuana Countdown: When Will Adult-Use Sales Begin?

Updated: May 7


Ever since Ohio voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana in November 2023, many have been eagerly awaiting the launch of adult-use sales. While possession and home growing became legal in December, commercial sales have not begun yet. So when can Ohioans without a medical card expect to buy marijuana products at dispensaries?


According to the State's Division of Cannabis Control (DCC), adult-use sales could potentially start this fall, aligning with the timeline laid out in the voter-approved initiative. However, some lawmakers believe sales may begin as soon as June 2024. All of these are proposed timelines and estimates, and as of now there is no clear launch date. As we've seen in other states, the launch of adult-use programs take much longer than anticipated, emphasizing the importance of medical marijuana programs.


Before adult-use sales can begin, the DCC must complete the rulemaking process and open up licensing. The initiated statute sets a deadline of June 7, 2024 for initial license applications to be available. Existing medical operators should be able to obtain "dual-use" licenses fairly quickly, while new adult-use businesses will have until September 7 for the DCC to issue provisional licenses.


Jamie Crawford, DCC spokesperson, stated the agency is on track so far but cautioned "anything that holds up the process – like delays in rulemaking or a lawsuit – could delay those deadlines."


The Push for Early Access

There is pressure from both businesses and policymakers to launch sales as soon as feasible. The DeWine administration endorsed legislation to allow medical dispensaries to sell recreationally, once the rules are in place. 


Rep. Jamie Callender, who chairs the committee reviewing the rules, told a local TV station the DCC plans to approve dual-use licenses at its May 13 meeting. This could enable existing operators to begin adult-use sales within a week after applications open on June 7. The DCC could not confirm this accelerated timeline, as it is dependent on legislative action. But Crawford said the division is "working to ensure legal sales begin as soon as possible."


Quickly establishing a regulated market is crucial to combat illicit operators and the proliferation of unregulated, untested hemp-derived products like delta-8 THC currently being sold unchecked in Ohio.


"We want to see safe, adult-use marijuana products in the hands of those 21 and up as was voted on by Ohioans," said Jeff McCourt, CEO of medical operator Firelands Scientific.


Benefits of Keeping a Medical Card

While recreational sales will provide access for all adults 21 and over, it is not yet available. Even once available, there are still advantages to maintaining status as a medical marijuana patient in Ohio:


  • Lower Tax Rates: The proposed 15% excise tax on adult-use purchases would not apply to medical marijuana sales, which are only subject to standard state sales tax of 5.75%.


  • Expanded Access & Supply: The proposed rules include provisions to prioritize medical patients' access to products through designated areas, checkout lines, and potential patient-only hours at dispensaries.


  • Continued Guidance: Patients will still be able to receive one-on-one consultations and product guidance from highly trained dispensary staff.


Until adult-use sales start, the DCC lowered the annual medical card state fee to just 1 cent in an effort to retain patients.


Preparing for Dual Markets

As the program transitions, medical operators like Firelands Scientific are readying for increased demand across cultivation, processing and retail channels. On the retail side, McCourt said their dispensaries like The Landing Cleveland "were built with this transition in mind" and have plans to expand staff and checkout stations.


While the core patient experience will remain, adult consumers can expect guided consultations similar to medical patients. "It's just managing the volume...to provide a quality experience for everyone regardless of their cannabis familiarity," McCourt explained. Cultivation-wise, McCourt said the timeline allows adequate time to scale up production of established strains and develop new product lines for the adult-use market.


Regulatory Balancing Act

Throughout the process, the DCC aims to balance priorities like consumer access, public safety, business viability, and cracking down on unlicensed operators. For example, the proposed rules allow municipalities to prohibit adult-use businesses, which could create marijuana deserts and fuel illicit markets in some areas. The DCC indicated it will consider geographical distribution during licensing to maximize access.


Another consideration is potency limits. While the voter initiative did not include purchasing limits, subsequent proposals from lawmakers included caps on THC content, effectively banning many vape products.


Despite potential hurdles, McCourt is optimistic about the program under the DCC's new leadership: "Canepa has been very engaged, transparent and proactive in outreach...a great breath of fresh air." As rulemaking continues and the launch approaches, the DCC vows to incorporate feedback from stakeholders on issues like dispensary operations, hours, and security measures.


For patients and businesses alike, Ohio's foray into dual medical and adult-use markets requires adaptation. But judging by projections of over $1 billion in annual sales by 2027, the adjustment is likely to be well worth the effort.


Get Your Medical Marijuana Card Today!

Ohio continues to expand its medical marijuana program and make residents’ lives easier by passing new progressive legislation. The addition of new qualifying conditions means that many more people will now be eligible for their medical card.


If you think you could benefit from medical marijuana, there is a good chance you qualify!

You need your medical card to access any of Ohio’s medical dispensaries. Not to worry, because it is now easier than ever to get your card with Ohio Marijuana Card!


In Ohio, there are many conditions that may make you eligible for medical marijuana, and we hope the program continues to expand by adding more conditions soon! If you have questions about whether you qualify, we can help with that too!


In order to visit a dispensary in the State of Ohio, you will need your medical marijuana card. With telemedicine, you can even get your card from the comfort of your own home!


If you don’t already have your card, we can help! You can even have your appointment and recommendation on the same day!


Schedule an appointment with one of our physicians today to see if you qualify.


 

Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.


Here at Ohio Marijuana Card, our goal is to help everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.


If you have any questions, call us at (866) 457-5559, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

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