Ohio Seeking to Expand Number of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy is looking to add 73 new dispensary licenses after the state’s demand for medical cannabis far exceeded projections.

Full story after the jump.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy, which regulates medical cannabis in the state, is seeking to add 73 new dispensary licenses, which would more than double the 58 that currently operate, Cleveland.com reports. A separate court case could create a 59th license from the first round of licensing, so, in all, there could be as many as 132 dispensaries, depending on the outcome of that case.

Regulators are seeking to expand the number of dispensaries as demand has so far exceeded projections. The board had estimated between 12,000 to 24,000 patients within the first two years but there are currently 252,139 patients enrolled in the program, the report says.

A study in 2020 found that 20% of the state’s medical cannabis patients traveled more than 30 miles to reach a dispensary as some areas of the state – namely rural areas in the northwest and west – do not host a dispensary. Some areas in southeastern Ohio only have one dispensary across several counties.

In November, the Board of Pharmacy received 1,400 applications for new dispensaries and the Ohio Lottery conducted a drawing to determine which companies would receive provisional approval. Justin Sheridan, the board’s director of medical cannabis operations, indicated that the agency is reviewing the winners to ensure they are compliant with state laws.

A recent study by the Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association (OMCIA) found that prices in Ohio double those found in neighboring Michigan; the price per gram in Ohio is $9.50, while the price per gram in Michigan is $4.22; however, Michigan’s market is more mature, launching in 2008 compared to 2019, when the first dispensary opened in Ohio.

Matt Close, executive director of the OMCIA, said the price discrepancy is due to the state’s “limited market” but he warned that “overexpansion can lead to oversupply, sending medical marijuana into the illicit market.”

Close told Cleveland.com that the organization believes that increasing the number of dispensaries “will drive the prices down.”

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