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Ohio Doubled the Number of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

September 16, 2021

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy, which regulates dispensaries, is awarding additional 73 licenses. There are already 58 licensed dispensaries. Black legislators and business owners have objections as they want state officials to create a plan on diversifying the industry. However, the process will start anyway when the official Request for Applications (RFA II) is published on September 20.

Application schedule

On Monday, winning a license application details will be released. The applications will be accepted from November 4 to 18. The fee is $5,000 for each license. One business owner can have no more than 5 dispensary licenses. Those who already have five licenses can’t be awarded with another license. The board will also review applications to see if they are compliant with the state law minimum demands.

Application process

The process of determining which qualified applicants get licenses was changed. A “drawing” process will choose the applicants. The applications will be randomly ordered in each district. This approach is used in the hope of avoiding litigation and optimize the process.

Cameron McNamee (a spokesman for the state pharmacy board) said that it would help ensure minority-owned businesses can compete with larger multi-state operators, which are generally not operated by minority owners. Rep. Juanita Brent, D-Cleveland, stated this wouldn’t solve the problem. Brent wanted the board to postpone the application process until equity provisions lead to more Black and brown business owners (for now, there are nine dispensaries owned by those identified as African American, Native American, Hispanic, Latino, or Asian).

McNamee claimed that the board is limited in what it can do to address these concerns. For minority applicants, reduced fees were considered, but they’d likely be struck down in court without the backing of the state law and upend the second round of licenses, as board attorneys said. Slowing down also wasn’t the option.
Licenses were awarded in 2017 and 2018. 15% of them were required to go to business owners of “economically disadvantaged” groups. But later, the court struck it down, so it won’t be in place for this second application round for 73 new licenses.

Equity provision

There is no information about equity provisions. According to Cameron McNamee, the board is still reviewing how it can encourage equity within the state law and rules.
No study on discrimination in the cannabis industry was conducted, and lawmakers are working on commissioning such a study.