A regulatory panel in Ohio gave the green light on Tuesday to plans that would more than double the number of medical cannabis dispensaries in the state.
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy voted “to start the process of awarding an additional 73 licenses,” per the Cincinnati Enquirer. There are currently 58 licensed dispensaries in the Buckeye State, with the Enquirer noting that nine of which “are owned and operated by someone who identifies as African American, Native American, Hispanic, Latino or Asian.”
The Enquirer reported that equity provisions “weren’t discussed during the meeting or mentioned in the request for applications approved Tuesday,” and that a spokesperson for the Ohio Board of Pharmacy said that the board “is still reviewing how it can encourage equity within the state law and rules.”
According to the paper, licenses for cultivation and dispensaries “were awarded in 2017 and 2018 under state law that required 15 percent of all marijuana licenses go to businesses owned by a member of one of those ‘economically disadvantaged’ groups,” but that requirement was later “struck down by court and won’t be in place for this second application round for 73 new licenses that begins this month.”
For now, more details regarding the application process are set to be released next week. The application period will run in November, and the licenses will likely be awarded early next year.
Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016 when lawmakers in the state passed a bill authorizing the treatment. The state’s first dispensaries opened three years later, as it continues to tweak and expand the law.
In June, the Ohio State Medical Board added Huntington’s disease, terminal disease and spasticity to the list of qualifying conditions, although it also rejected the addition of autism spectrum disorder, restless leg syndrome, panic disorder with agoraphobia and spasms.
That same month, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program issued new rules over the use of Delta-8 THC, which included a new requirement licensee notification of “the use of Delta-8 THC must include a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that describes the process and methods with which Delta-8 THC will be used in compliance” with the state’s existing laws.
The panel also issued requirements that the “total THC content—combination of Delta-9 THC and any other THC isomer or analog—of the manufactured product shall not exceed 70 percent,” a notable stipulation given hemp-derived Delta-8’s similarities to marijuana. In that same vein, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control program required that Delta-8 THC “must be fully incorporated on the package and label for patient awareness,” and that abbreviations “such as ‘Delta-8’ or ‘D8,’” are not allowed.
But while the state’s medical marijuana law continues to evolve, efforts to legalize recreational pot use have been slow to get off the ground.
In July, a pair of Ohio lawmakers introduced what was said to be the first bill to legalize and regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana in the state’s history.
The bill, introduced by Democratic state House Reps. Casey Weinstein and Terrence Upchurch, would make it legal for adults aged 21 and older to “buy and possess up to five ounces of marijuana at a time and grow up to 12 mature plants for personal use.”
“We’re seeing there are dramatic economic benefits, there are medical benefits and there’s a strong criminal justice avenue here so we can focus law enforcement on violent crime,” Weinstein said after the bill was introduced. “Ohio is at the point where we’re going to be behind if we don’t act now. I hope this provides the spark that we need to elevate the conversation and get this legislation moving.”
The state’s Republican governor, Mike Dewine, has previously voiced opposition to legalizing marijuana.