Apr 19, 2024 - News

Marijuana dispensaries prepare for recreational sales

Illustration of a flowerpot with a plant growing out of it that looks like marijuana, but is made of greenbacks.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

​​​​Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries are preparing for the industry's next phase as the sale of recreational marijuana could begin this summer.

Why it matters: The move not only could boost sales at local businesses but also is expected to generate hundreds of millions in state tax revenue.

Flashback: Ohioans voted to legalize recreational marijuana use for those 21 and older last November.

The latest: Gov. Mike DeWine has urged lawmakers to speed up the process of legal sales over concerns people would turn to the black market.

  • The state's Division of Cannabis Control will open its application process for a dual-use license to sell medical and adult-use recreational marijuana to Ohio's more than 120 licensed medical cannabis dispensaries by June 7.
  • Approvals are expected by summer's end.

What they're saying: "It's a volatile environment to plan for," says Jeff McCourt, founder and CEO of Firelands Scientific, a medical dispensary with five Ohio locations.

  • "We're trying to ramp up and be prepared by June but also remain cautious knowing that there's work to be done."

The intrigue: Though McCourt said he can't estimate how much sales would increase for dispensaries authorized to sell recreational marijuana, the demand is there.

  • "There is already a significant amount of qualifying patients that don't have access, who might already be accessing through Michigan and buying hemp products through the state," he says.
  • "We get at least a few people a day at our dispensaries looking to buy for adult use, and we have to turn them away."

Between the lines: Increased demand from recreational sales could also help stabilize smaller businesses that have struggled since Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016.

What's next: New dispensaries that aren't part of the state's existing medical marijuana program will probably have a longer wait time as the state legislature debates issues like growing limits and distribution of revenue.

The bottom line: "It feels like a long process," McCourt says. "But we'll look back in a few years and say Ohio really got it right and became the example of how to unlock this process."

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