In 2016, Ohio officially sanctioned the use of medical marijuana, contingent upon specific conditions and criteria. Prospective medical marijuana recipients must possess a qualifying medical condition, and a certified physician is required to submit an application on their behalf. As of June 2022, a mere 240 physicians in Ohio maintain an active certification to prescribe medical marijuana. In June 2021, Ohio expanded the list of qualifying medical conditions by three, resulting in a total of twenty-five conditions by June 2022. Ohio state legislation dictates that the possession limit is set to a 90-day supply, individually calculated by the dispensary for each patient. The Department of Commerce oversees the issuance of cultivator and retail dispensary licenses, with no provision for home cultivation.
Furthermore, the legalization of recreational marijuana is scheduled to take effect in Ohio on December 7, 2023. Despite the passage of Issue 2 by Ohioans in the recent election, certain lawmakers are advocating for alterations to the law. Discussions on potential changes have taken place within the Ohio House, Senate, and involve Governor Mike DeWine.
Cannabis License Types in Ohio
Presently, Ohio issues cannabis licenses exclusively within the framework of its medical cannabis program, as recreational cannabis remains prohibited in the state. The various cannabis licenses available in Ohio are as follows:
Medical Cannabis Cultivation License
This license grants permission to cultivate medical marijuana and distribute or sell it to licensed processors. Regulated by the Ohio Department of Commerce (ODC), it can be issued as either a Level I or Level II cultivation license.
Level I Medical Cannabis Cultivation License
- Authorizes the cultivation of an initial area measuring no more than 25,000 square feet.
Level II Medical Cannabis Cultivation License:
- Authorizes the cultivation of up to 3,000 square feet of the initial designated cannabis cultivation area. Expansion beyond these limits requires submission of approval requests.
Medical Cannabis Processor License
This license enables the licensee to:
- Obtain medical cannabis from licensed cultivators.
- Process medical marijuana obtained from licensed cultivators into a dispensable form.
- Dispense or sell processed medical cannabis to licensed retail dispensaries.
- Ohio recognizes three types of cannabis processing facilities: standalone processors, plant-only processors, and vertically integrated processors.
Medical Cannabis Dispensary License
This license allows the licensee to acquire medical cannabis from licensed processors and dispense or sell it to qualified patients.
Medical Cannabis Testing Labs License
This license grants testing laboratories the authority to obtain medical cannabis from licensed cultivators, processors, and retail dispensaries. It also allows them to conduct testing on the acquired cannabis.
Ohio's evolving cannabis regulatory landscape reflects a dynamic approach to medical marijuana within the state. The delineation of Level I and Level II cultivation licenses underscores the state's commitment to balancing growth opportunities with regulatory control. Meanwhile, the diversity in processor licenses, including standalone, plant-only, and vertically integrated processors, provides a nuanced framework for meeting the diverse needs of medical cannabis patients.
The pivotal role of dispensaries in bridging the gap between processors and patients emphasizes the importance of a well-connected supply chain. Moreover, the emphasis on testing labs ensures that the medical cannabis reaching patients meets rigorous quality standards, promoting safety and efficacy.
As Ohio moves forward, the anticipation of recreational cannabis legalization on the horizon adds another layer to the conversation.