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'Ohio is a very exciting market:' Marijuana industry watching for changes to law

With the possession, use and home growth of marijuana legal as of Thursday morning for Ohioans who are 21 and older, those in the cannabis industry nationwide are waiting with bated breath for sale to start in one of the country’s most populous states.

“Ohio is a very exciting market,” said Rodney Holcombe, the director of public policy for LeafLink, a marijuana wholesaling platform that connects brands with dispensaries and other retail distributors.

Sale to adult-use, non-medical customers is not yet legal. Under Issue 2, the Ohio Department of Commerce—which will oversee the new program—has about nine months to begin issuing licenses to new and existing dispensaries.

Absent a medical license, easy legal access to marijuana won’t come to most Ohio customers for some time. Even after they are licensed, Holcombe said testing bottlenecks or stock delays are common in freshly legal markets, meaning initial prices might be higher than what Ohioans are seeking.

“But I think that begins to change,” he said. “We see more product that’s floated into the market from newer processors and newer growers, and then we see prices begin to stabilize and we see more market participation.”

LeafLink, like other wholesalers and retailers, is watching Ohio lawmakers closely right now, because changes made to the law could determine how the program rolls out.

Last Wednesday—about six hours before Issue 2 became law as is—a bill to change adult-use cannabis laws cleared the Ohio Senate 28-2. It still allows for home grow, but limits it, creates a THC content ceiling on extracts, and retools the taxes involved, among other changes. Gov. Mike DeWine urged the Ohio House to vote on those changes, too.

“What we don't want is a situation where the black market grows, and we don't want a situation really where people don't know what the rules are. And we just need to get this done," DeWine said.

Setting a ceiling on THC content for concentrates and extracts at 50%, however, is not common, Holcombe said.

“They certainly are different than the approach taken by many other jurisdictions,” he said. “This is just one of those instances where we could run the risk of encouraging, you know, illicit operators who have more potent products to sell those products.”

One of the biggest modifications senators voted on Wednesday would enable licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to begin selling products to non-medical customers within 90 days of the governor’s signature.

Sarah Donaldson covers government, policy, politics and elections for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. Contact her at
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