Ohio is moving forward with its recreational marijuana program, as the Division of Cannabis Control released the first draft of the licensing rules for businesses on Monday. The draft rules outline the application process, fees, and requirements for marijuana cultivators, processors, and dispensaries. The division is seeking feedback from stakeholders and the public until Feb. 9, before finalizing the rules and making them available for public comment.
Recreational Marijuana in Ohio: A Brief Overview
Ohio became the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana in November 2023, when voters approved Issue 2 by a margin of 54% to 46%. The new law allows adults 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and 15 grams of extracts, and to grow up to six plants per person and 12 plants per household. The law also creates a social equity program to support communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, and directs 50% of the tax revenue from marijuana sales to fund education, health care, and infrastructure.
However, the law also faces some challenges and uncertainties, as the state legislature and the governor have proposed several changes and amendments to the original initiative. Some of the proposed changes include lowering the home cultivation limit, increasing the tax rate, setting THC limits for extracts, and allowing existing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational products. The legislative process is still ongoing, and it is unclear how the final law will look like.
Meanwhile, the Division of Cannabis Control, which is part of the Ohio Department of Commerce, is responsible for regulating and licensing the recreational marijuana industry. The division has until June 7 to make the license applications available, and until Sept. 7 to issue the first round of licenses. The division estimates that legal sales will begin around September or October 2024.
Draft Rules for Marijuana Businesses: What You Need to Know
The draft rules released by the division on Monday provide some details and clarity on how the recreational marijuana industry will operate in Ohio. Here are some of the key points from the draft rules:
- The division will issue three types of licenses: cultivator, processor, and dispensary. Each license type will have different tiers and subtypes, depending on the size and scope of the operation.
- The division will prioritize issuing licenses to existing medical marijuana businesses and social equity applicants, who are individuals from communities that have been adversely affected by marijuana prohibition. The division will use a scoring system to evaluate and rank the applications, based on various criteria such as business plan, security plan, financial plan, and social responsibility plan.
- The application fees will vary depending on the license type and tier. For example, the application fee for a Tier I cultivator license, which allows up to 25,000 square feet of cultivation area, is $25,000. The application fee for a Tier III dispensary license, which allows up to three dispensary locations, is $10,000. The application fees are non-refundable and must be paid online.
- The license fees will also vary depending on the license type and tier. For example, the license fee for a Tier I cultivator license is $180,000 for the first year and $200,000 for each subsequent year. The license fee for a Tier III dispensary license is $80,000 for the first year and $90,000 for each subsequent year. The license fees must be paid within 10 days of receiving the notice of provisional license approval.
- The licensees must comply with various rules and regulations regarding the cultivation, processing, testing, packaging, labeling, transportation, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products. The rules cover aspects such as security, inventory, record-keeping, waste disposal, quality control, and product safety. The licensees must also submit monthly reports to the division and pay a 10% excise tax on the gross receipts from the sale of marijuana and marijuana products.
How to Provide Feedback and Stay Informed
The division is inviting stakeholders and the public to review the draft rules and provide feedback by Feb. 9. The feedback can be submitted online through the division’s website, or by email to DCC@com.state.oh.us. The division will consider the feedback and make any necessary changes before submitting the rules for public comment through the Common Sense Initiative, which is a state office that reviews business regulations.
The division also encourages interested parties to sign up for email updates and alerts on its website, and to follow its social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook. The division will provide regular updates and information on the recreational marijuana program, including the final rules, the license application process, and the timeline for legal sales.