Today, Ohio regulators will announce which retail dispensaries have received approval to set up shop under the state’s new medical marijuana program. The application process, however, has not been without controversy. And the 57 dispensary locations expected to be announced today will represent just a fraction of the 376 applications submitted to regulators.
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy Awards 57 Dispensaries With Operating Licenses
Ohio’s medical cannabis program has grown in fits and starts. Throughout its early stages, the state has drawn criticism over its controversial licensing process.
One company, CannAscend, has threatened to sue the state over the matter. Last December, CannAscend CEO Jimmy Gould claimed the state was awarding licenses to businesses with insider connections. He called the application evaluation process a “travesty” and a “glorified essay writing contest.”
Ohio rejected CannAscend’s application for a cultivation license. The company is still on the hunt for a retail dispensary license under the name CannAscend Alternative LLC.
After an initial delay, The Ohio Board of Pharmacy will announce its final decisions during this afternoon’s regular meeting. Even though state law allows for up to 60 dispensary locations across 28 regions, the Board is set to approve just 57. Two districts did not submit applications.
What Will Ohio Dispensaries Sell, And Who Can Buy?
As in other medical marijuana states, Ohio has placed restrictions on the kinds of cannabis products that dispensaries can sell. Dispensaries cannot sell patients smokable flower. Smoking marijuana is illegal for Ohio medical marijuana patients.
Similar measures are in place in other medical-use states. But in Florida, a state supreme court ruled that the ban on smokable marijuana was unconstitutional.
Despite the ban on flower, Ohio dispensaries can sell edibles, topicals and patches, oils, and concentrates. Medical patients can also vape cannabis products.
Ohio has set a list of almost two dozen qualifying conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, CTE, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
Medical marijuana patients will have to wait until September 8 for retail dispensaries to come online.
Qualifying patients will have to present a medical ID card and a recommendation from a physician registered with the state’s program before they can buy cannabis products. Ohio’s State Medical Board has so far approved 89 physicians to make medical cannabis recommendations. The state’s pharmacy board hopes to set up an online portal to speed the registration process.
Despite approving 57 dispensary locations across 26 geographic regions, the bulk of Ohio’s new dispensaries are concentrated in the state’s southwest corner, on the border with Kentucky and Indiana, according to Cincinnati.com.
Some 35 dispensaries will soon open their doors in Cincinnati, Monroe, Oxford, and Lebanon. They’ll join up with the 25 large- and small-scale cultivation and production businesses Ohio has already licensed.
Ohio law follows many of the restrictions on cannabis business locations seen in other legalized states. Dispensaries must be further than 500 feet from a school, church, or public amenities like parks and libraries and community addiction services. Dispensaries must also pass a state inspection and receive an operating certificate before they can sell to MMJ patients.
Crucially, Ohio has yet to issue licenses to any cannabis businesses besides retail and cultivation. That means companies that will process marijuana into the forms the law requires are still waiting for state approval.
Additionally, the state will have to license the lab testing companies necessary to ensure medical cannabis quality. Ohio expects to award 40 provision licenses to processors in the near future.