Apr 4, 2024 - News

Ohio marijuana sales expected by end of summer

Illustration of a pattern of marijuana leaves filling the state of Ohio.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Ohioans could be legally buying recreational marijuana as early as this summer — but the exact timing is still unclear.

Why it matters: Marijuana has been legal to possess since a voter-backed measure went into effect Dec. 7, but there is still no legal avenue to buy it.

The big picture: Gov. Mike DeWine has decried the situation as "goofy" and shared concerns that it would embolden the black market.

  • State lawmakers attempted to amend the law to speed up the sales timeline and address those concerns, but legislative efforts went nowhere.

The latest: Earlier this week Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens told reporters his caucus was unable to reach a consensus on how to move forward with the issue.

  • The state Senate had sent the House legislation in December that would have allowed recreational sales at existing medical dispensaries to begin 90 days after the bill was signed.

Between the lines: Legalization advocates aren't particularly upset that the Senate's bill didn't pass.

  • It contained provisions that had drawn criticism by redirecting tax revenues from social equity programs to law enforcement and jail construction.

The intrigue: The state's regulatory machinery is moving faster than expected to implement the law, Tom Haren, a spokesman for the Ohio Cannabis Coalition, which represents dozens of state cannabis businesses, tells Axios.

What they're saying: Haren said he's focused squarely on work by state regulators with the Division of Cannabis Control to implement the law as passed by voters. He offered effusive praise for their work so far, which he called fast and smooth.

  • "We're months away from having adult-use sales here in Ohio," he tells Axios.

What's next: The division is on track to meet or beat a June 7 deadline for licensure applications to go live.

  • From there, Haren expects quick approval for existing medical dispensaries to begin recreational sales by summer's end.

What we're watching: Expect a longer runway, however, for new dispensaries that aren't part of the state's existing medical marijuana program — operations Haren says will likely take about a year to get off the ground.

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