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  • Christopher D.

Ohio Marijuana Dispensaries Prep for Recreational Sales by Late Summer


For marijuana enthusiasts in the Buckeye State, the wait is nearly over. After years of legislative battles and the recent approval of regulated adult-use marijuana by Ohio voters, the long-awaited rollout of recreational sales is finally on the horizon. According to state regulators and industry insiders, licensed marijuana dispensaries in Ohio could begin serving recreational customers as early as this summer.


While the timeline remains somewhat fluid, all signs point to the Ohio Division of Cannabis Control making good on its aggressive implementation plans over the coming months. We'll explore what prospective recreational consumers and patients can expect as this historic policy change kicks into gear statewide.


Expedited Licensing for Existing Medical Operators

When Issue 2 legalizing adult-use marijuana cultivation, processing and sales passed with 53.3% of the vote last November, it triggered the creation of an expanded regulated marijuana program to be overseen by the Division of Cannabis Control. The DCC wasted little time getting to work on drafting rules and regulations to govern the new Adult Use Cannabis Program (AUCP).


Among the first orders of business was establishing a licensing system and procedures for current medical marijuana operators like cultivators, processors and dispensaries to obtain adult-use permits. The DCC projects having its first wave of provisional dispensary licenses issued to existing medical facilities by June of this year.


"We've been urging the Division to prioritize approving expanding operations at the state's 57 operating medical dispensaries," said Thomas Haren, a marijuana policy expert and spokesperson for the Ohio Cannabis Coalition. "Based on their rule proposals, they seem to be on track to meet or possibly even beat their June 7th target date for those initial adult-use dispensary applications."


According to Jeff McCourt, CEO of multi-state operator Firelands Scientific which runs the Columbus-based Landing Dispensary, his company is ready to flip the switch on recreational sales as soon as they receive state approval.  


"We're really optimistic that the timeline and rules the DCC has laid out will allow us to implement a smooth and effective transition for serving both medical patients and new adult-use consumers," McCourt stated. "The planning and preparation we've done Should allow us to be up and running literally within days of receiving our rec license."


Other major multi-state operators with existing Ohio medical facilities like Trulieve's Bloom Dispensaries are similarly poised to quickly integrate adult-use sales into their retail operations once licensing is complete.


"We've been undergoing massive hiring efforts and vetting potential locations to expand our footprint in order to meet the expected jump in demand and sales volume," explained Bloom Dispensaries' Tim Wagner. "Once that state license comes through for us, we could open for recreational sales almost immediately."


Fresh Wave of New Dispensary Licenses to Follow  

While Ohio's current medical marijuana operators will get first crack at serving rec customers, the Division of Cannabis Control isn't stopping there. Their regulatory plans call for issuing a second wave of brand new adult-use dispensary licenses to applicants looking to enter Ohio's newly recreational market.


According to draft compliance rules published in late March, the DCC is tentatively targeting September 2023 to open up the application window for aspiring dispensary operators. However, industry watchers expect it could take new license winners 12-18 months to construct facilities and gain operational approval, putting their likely launch dates in mid-to-late 2024.


The rules provide a solid framework for any individuals or multi-state operators looking to plant their flag in the Ohio adult-use market over the coming years. Some key provisions outlined include:


  • Licensed dispensaries must be at least 500 feet from schools, churches, parks/playgrounds 

  • Dispensaries can be open from 7am - 11pm daily

  • Security requirements for product storage, surveillance and visitor policies

  • Financial responsibility guidelines including initial bonds of $50,000

  • Ownership and financial interest disclosure mandates

  • Guidelines around marijuana disposal and waste management


While the initial buildout and licensing queue could be rather lengthy for new market entrants, many believe having a wide array of dispensary options will ultimately benefit Ohio marijuana consumers through increased competition and product selection.  


Why Ohio Patients Still Need a Medical Marijuana Card

Although adult-use legalization will soon provide all Ohio adults over 21 with legal access to purchase marijuana for recreational purposes, there remain some compelling reasons for patients to maintain an active medical marijuana card even after rec sales launch.


Chief among them is that Ohio's medical program provides significant tax benefits not available on the adult-use side. While recreational marijuana purchases will be subject to the state's normal 10.25% sales tax rate (on top of any potential local taxes), registered medical patients are exempted from paying any sales taxes on their marijuana purchases from licensed dispensaries.


For patients suffering from qualifying conditions like cancer, Crohn's disease or chronic pain and treating with marijuana products on a consistent basis, those tax savings can really add up over the course of a year. Maintaining medical patient status provides insulation from constantly paying stiff taxes on what many view as legitimate medical expenses.


Additionally, medical marijuana patients are afforded better legal protections against potential employment discrimination and have an earlier opportunity to access new products and expanded offerings as they gain regulatory approval.  


"Even after adult-use sales roll out, we're highly recommending any of our patients with legitimate qualifying conditions maintain their active status in the medical program," explained Bloom Dispensaries' Tim Wagner. "The tax savings alone make it worthwhile, but they'll also have opportunities for early access to new products, higher potency options, innovative solutions and more before they reach rec consumers."


Of course, joining the medical program isn't free either. would-be patients need to pay $50 annually just to obtain their medical card after being approved by a physician. Many dispensary operators are hoping to see further improvements to affordability and coverage once recreational sales provide an economic boost.


"Long term, we'd obviously like to see broader insurance coverage for medical marijuana products to improve accessibility for all Ohio patients," remarked Firelands Scientific's Jeff McCourt. "But for now, the tax savings and other protections make pursuing a medical card the prudent choice for most people suffering from cancer, PTSD or chronic pain issues where marijuana can have positive impacts."


Preparing for Takeoff in Ohio's Marijuana Market

As the summer months approach, all eyes will be on the Division of Cannabis Control as it implements the first phases of Ohio's newly approved Adult Use Cannabis Program. The medical market has laid a solid foundation, and state regulators seem intent on launching recreational sales in a timely and responsible manner.


Successfully doing so would position Ohio as one of the nation's newest adult-use marijuana markets. While the process remains very much ongoing, most signs point to lift-off for recreational dispensary sales by late summer or early fall - welcome news for marijuana consumers across the Buckeye State.


"There's a clear demand and public desire for regulated adult-use sales in Ohio that the voters have now affirmed," remarked the Coalition's Thomas Haren. "We're encouraged by the Division's rules and proposed timelines so far. Responsibly implementing Issue 2 and serving both patient and recreational customers will be a major priority across the industry in 2023 and beyond."


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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