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Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries prep for adult-use green light

Some items available at medical marijuana dispensary in Columbus.
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Some items available at medical marijuana dispensary in Columbus.

Ohioans will likely be able to buy recreational marijuana as soon as mid-June, earlier than the timeline outlined by the initiated statute they voted to pass last fall, and existing medical marijuana dispensaries say they plan to be prepared for the state’s non-medical green light.

The state’s joint committee on agency rule review (JCARR) meets May 13, when it’s scheduled to vote on its first batch of rules from the Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Cannabis Control. Among those are rules for the application process medical dispensaries need to go through to get licensed to sell to any of-age customer.

“I've been assured they will be reviewed very quickly once they are filled out and returned, and they will be fairly straightforward applications,” said Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord), who chairs the joint committee. “That being the case, we could have recreational sales as early as the second week of June.”

Ohio Cannabis Co. owner Brian Wingfield said a few regulatory snags delayed them from starting medical sales in 2019 by a few weeks.

“I really wish we would have been there on that opening day; it didn't happen,” Wingfield said in an interview. “I want to be on opening day this time and so we're working toward that.”

Aside from waiting and watching for the state regulations, Wingfield said they’re looking to double their staff to prepare for an influx of customers and also planning for potential shortages of some products, at least initially.

Wingfield owned a chain of central Ohio video game stores before he started selling medical marijuana. But he said one of his first gigs prepared him for the potential for lines to stretch out his doors come June.

“I did a short stint when I was much, much younger in the world at Graeter’s Ice Cream,” he said, “and they said to us, like, can you handle big, long lines? And they said, ‘The good thing about being in the big, long lines, is everybody's getting ice cream.’”

Jason Erkes, a spokesperson for marijuana wholesaler and retailer Sunnyside, said the chain has been doing hiring fairs.

“We're expecting big crowds, we're expecting big numbers,” Erkes said in an interview. “If June is the date that becomes day one of sale, we'll be ready to go the second we get permission to sell. And we will be welcoming people into our stores with open arms.”

The window for legislative changes prior to sales kicking off is closing. In Callender’s eyes, lawmakers in the Ohio House made the right decision by letting “the rulemakers make the rules.”

“There's some areas that the initiated statute didn't address that as we move into a whole new sector, there will be some things we need to do,” Callender said. “There will be a marijuana bill at some point.”

That bill, he estimated, won’t come before the summer.

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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