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How to Open a Dispensary in Ohio

August 26, 2022

More and more companies have expressed interest in embarking on the cannabis industry over the years due to its potential to make huge financial profits. That’s why the list of the countries that legalize medical and recreational marijuana worldwide is significantly expanding. The United States is a prominent player in this regard, let’s face it.

The following state we are going to guide you about is Ohio. Based on House Bill 523, taking effect on September 8, 2016, medical marijuana became legal in Ohio. Entrepreneurs now may open dispensaries and sell medical marijuana products to patients with qualifying medical conditions. However, dispensary applicants must consider a complex and competitive licensing process and be ready for it.

The State Board of Pharmacy (BOP) is the body that takes care of overseeing marijuana retail dispensaries and registering medical marijuana patients and caregivers in Ohio. Qualifying patients may acquire medical cannabis products from licensed medical cannabis retail dispensaries.

The BOP regulates medical dispensaries, and the Ohio Department of Commerce licenses and regulates cultivation, processing, and lab testing facilities. Ohio granted the first licenses for cultivation, processing, lab testing, and retail dispensing in 2017 and 2018.

The process of legalization of recreational marijuana in Ohio is under consideration at this stage, with the deadline to take effect in 2023. The initiative would enact a state law to legalize the cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession, home growth, and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older.

Adults would be authorized to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and about 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals would be able to grow six marijuana plants at home or up to 12 plants per household.

Dispensary Rules in Ohio

The BOP has developed rules defining the activities for those who want to open a dispensary in Ohio. The rules are focused mainly on developing the program that ensures: 1) the public’s safety; 2) access to a safe medical product; 3) the possibility to allow the program to respond to changes in demand.

Main topics of the rules:

License Quota: The BOP may issue up to 40 dispensary licenses if permitted to issue additional licenses based upon state population, patient population and geographic distribution of dispensary sites.

Certificate of Operation: A provisional licensee must pass a final inspection within six months of the issuance of a provisional dispensary license.

Financial Responsibility: Dispensaries must demonstrate relevant capital to meet facility plans and operational needs.

Reporting to OARRS: Dispensaries will be required to report dispensing information to the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System in real-time (within 5 minutes of dispensing) to prevent medical marijuana diversion.

Dispensary Clinical Director: Each dispensary will be required to have a clinical director that is a licensed pharmacist or licensed prescriber at dispensaries.

Employee ID Cards: All dispensary employees and owners are required to be licensed by the Board. Owners/employees must wear a state-issued medical marijuana owner/employee ID card on dispensary premises.

Security, Control and Storage of Medical Marijuana: Dispensaries will be required to make records and take specific security measures, including surveillance cameras, to prevent diversion.

Patient Education: Requires dispensaries to have a policy in place for the education of patients and caregivers and establishes relevant  educational materials intended for qualifying patients and caregivers.

Inspections and Enforcement: The BOP is entitled to conduct inspections of dispensaries and bring enforcement actions against dispensaries and licensed employees/owners.

In Ohio, marijuana dispensaries may acquire medical cannabis or cannabis products from one or more manufacturers and sell them to qualifying patients.

Dispensary Location Regulations and Restrictions

If you decide to open a dispensary in Ohio, you will have to consider the state, county, and city ordinances regulating where you may locate your business. Your dispensaries must be 500 feet away from a school, church, public library, public playground, or park and ensure the location meets local zoning laws within your corresponding city/county.

You will also need to identify if the local market is the right place for your business, and if the dispensary is convenient to your target demographic. You should also figure out how many other dispensaries are located in the same territory, or if there are any security risks regarding the particular location, etc.

How to Get a Dispensary License in Ohio

You will have to face tough competition in being granted a dispensary license if you wish to open a dispensary in Ohio. That’s why it’s essential to be thoroughly familiar with the corresponding regulations and prepared for the licensing process.

Suppose you promptly submit accurate applications meeting the minimum statutory requirements and paying appropriate fees. In that case, the process will move forward to a BOP provisional dispensary license review. Applications passing muster at that level will be eligible to be entered into the lottery for a temporary license.

The cost to operate a licensed dispensary in Ohio is significant. It requires sufficient funding to open a dispensary and consistent revenue to maintain your license. It must be renewed on an annual or biannual basis, depending on the license type.

Here are the dispensary application fees below:

$5,000 – with each license application;

$80 000 – biennial (once every two years) licensing fee;

$80 000 – the license renewal fee.

A single owner may obtain no more than five dispensary licenses under the BOP.

Additional costs that you should consider:

  • Dispensary certificate of operation fee $70,000

  • Biennial renewal for a dispensary license fee $70,000

  • Biennial renewal for a dispensary associated key employee card fee $500

  • Biennial renewal for a dispensary key employee card fee $250

  • Biennial renewal for a dispensary support employee card fee $100

  • Reissued dispensary certificate of operation or employee identification card fee $50

  • Change in ownership fee $5,000

  • Relocation fee $5,000

  • Major modification or renovation fee $5,000

Qualifying Patient

Qualifying patients with the following medical conditions can obtain an ID card in Ohio:

AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Autism, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.

Is a Business Plan Necessary While Applying for a Dispensary License?

A dispensary application must include a business plan as well. Being meticulous about every detail in your business plan will maximize your chances of a cannabis business license approval. Besides, a business plan demonstrates your organizational and entrepreneurial knowledge and how your business influences the community you offer the service; above all, drawing up an accurate business plan will play a significant role in attracting investors and partners for your Ohio marijuana business.

How much does a Dispensary make in Ohio?

Ohio ranks number 36 out of 50 states nationwide for Dispensary job salaries. Based on Aug 8, 2022, the average annual pay for Dispensary jobs in Ohio is $37,818 a year. It is proportionate to $727/week and $3,151/month.

There are ten cities in Ohio where the salary for a Dispensary job is above the average. Coldstream is at the top of the list, with Apple Creek and Middletown following.

Ohio Cannabis Tracking System

A dispensary Certificate of Operation in Ohio requires the implementation of a POS system that is interfaced with two Ohio MMCP systems:

  • Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance (Metrc);

  • Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Clearinghouse.

For further detailed information, follow the link below: Dispensary Point-of-Sale System Interface Requirements

Other Fun Facts that Might Be Interesting to You

In 2016 Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 523 to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis in Ohio.

In 2019  First Ohio medical cannabis businesses opened, and medical cannabis sales began.

In 2020  Ohio State Medical Board approved adding Cachexia to approved conditions.

In April 2021 – The board of Pharmacy approved increasing the number of state dispensary licenses by 73, now totaling 130.


According to the information presented here, we can conclude that Ohio turns out to be the state following stricter requirements and regulations compared to some other states. Moreover, it would be best if you were accurate and well organized to start your dispensary business in Ohio. For many, a solid will to comply with the laws and overcome all the challenges is enough to start their business in this fast-growing industry.