Recreational marijuana in Ohio: Process for licensing businesses expected to start in June



The Ohio Division of Cannabis Control is expecting to begin its recreational marijuana licensing process in early June, a critical step toward the state’s first legal recreational sale, which is expected not long after the state grants its first recreational license in early September.

The first batch of applications will go to each existing medical marijuana licensee beginning June 7, according to Department of Commerce spokesperson Jamie Crawford and the initial rules proposed by the Ohio Division of Cannabis Control, which are subject to various levels of review before they’re finalized.

From there, the division will field applications from entities new to Ohio’s marijuana trade which are hoping to secure the 40 recreational cultivator licenses and 50 dispensary licenses.

Crawford noted that division is “looking to begin awarding provisional licenses for non-medical cannabis facilities by September 7,” and told this newspaper that recreational marijuana sales cannot legally occur until the licenses are issued and the respective facilities are certified by the division.

This timeline follows the directives of the yet-to-be-altered Issue 2 statute that went into effect on Dec. 7. However, it’s ultimately a timeline that Gov. Mike DeWine and the Department of Commerce have been displeased with, given the disconnect between marijuana being legal to possess in Ohio with no legal way to procure it.

As Crawford noted, the “official position of the DeWine administration and the Department of Commerce is that the General Assembly should amend the initiated statute to allow legal sales sooner at medical dispensaries,” and a piece of legislation to do just that has been collecting dust in the Ohio House for months now.

The House has been happy to let that legislation lie, given that it also would have raised taxes on sales, further limited home grow allowances, and weakened the maximum potency of THC concentrates, among other things.

House leadership has suggested that it would only move forward with its own solution, which was promised to stay truer to what Ohioans passed in November, but any public evidence of that bill progressing past negotiations is scant. Hints have emerged from both sides of the lower chamber’s aisle that it might forego any changes to Issue 2 at all.

According to Pat Melton, spokesperson for Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, the GOP leader has been pleased with the rule making process so far and would like to see how the division’s proposed rules shake out after review from the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.

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