Ohio State Permits Expansion of Marijuana Dispensaries
The Ohio Department of Commerce is preparing for the increasing demand for medical marijuana by granting permits to existing cultivators to expand their medical marijuana grow space.
An Ohio medical marijuana dispensary extension will be granted to growers who have followed the state regulations and who have reported to be using the maximum amount of space permitted by the state.
Growers must also establish that there is a demand that must be met.
State Makes a Decision After The Fire Rock Lawsuit
This decision came after Fire Rock Ltd., a medical marijuana cultivator, sued the state government for not acting on its request for expansion. This was also after the state government made plans to increase the dispensaries by more than 100 percent.
Department of Commerce spokesperson Jennifer Jarrell stated in an email that this decision was the result of a review of a number of metrics for the program, with two of the factors being the current request for new dispensary licenses by the Board of Pharmacy and patient participation in the program.
This initiative should give current cultivators enough opportunity to expand their production prior to the operation of new dispensaries.
Small-Scale Medical Marijuana Cultivators Requested for Expansion
Seven small-scale medical marijuana cultivators, including Fire Rock in Akron, requested an expansion between 2019 and 2020 after they have reached the maximum 3,000 feet of marijuana grow space.
They claimed that while their products are no longer enough to supply the market, the state had granted licenses to new cultivators in addition to the initial 24.
The other six cultivators were:
- FN Group in Ravenna
- Agri-Med in Langsville
- Farkas Farms in Grafton
- Ohio Clean Leaf in Dayton
- Ancient Roots in Wilmington, and
- Galenas in Akron
Initial Denial of the Request for Expansion
After Fire Rock sued the government, the Ohio Supreme Court stepped in to order the Department of Commerce to decide on the matter, which resulted in the Department’s denial of the request.
Sheryl Maxfield, the director of the Department of Commerce, wrote to the cultivator that the Ohio medical marijuana dispensary extension request was premature due to the sufficient supply in the program.
In addition, seven cultivators that were not yet operational would account for 24% of the grow space allotted in Ohio.
New Maximum Grow Space for Medical Marijuana Cultivators
In Ohio, 20 medical marijuana cultivators are permitted to use 25,000 square feet of grow space, while 15 medical marijuana cultivators have their grow space cap at 3,000 square feet.
The state will allow expansion of up to 75,000 square feet for the larger cultivators and up to 9,000 square feet for the smaller growers. Details on the expansion request process have not yet been released.
The seven cultivators that were mentioned in the letter by the Commerce Director are still non-operational as of late.
Along with the announcement of the processing of expansion requests of existing medical marijuana grow spaces, the department also announced its decision to add 73 new dispensaries.
These dispensaries will be permitted to submit proposals that include drive-through windows.
The department is still crafting rules on how to process requests from existing dispensaries to install these new facilities.
These new policies came after the amendment of some rules to protect patients and dispensary workers during the pandemic.
A new allocation method will be decided by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy with the aim of ensuring that each dispensary in a dispensary district in Ohio will be able to address the needs of about 1,200 registered patients.
This will result in Ohio having more dispensaries per capita compared to Pennsylvania.
The state has set its initial marijuana grow space limits and dispensaries based on a population of 24,000 medical marijuana patients.
By the end of July 2021, the state had 125,000 people registered as active medical marijuana patients.
Public Cannabis Companies Expand Their Investments in Ohio
As a result of the developments in medical cannabis expansion requests in Ohio, public companies in the cannabis industry continue to increase their investments in the state.
- Jushi Holdings Inc, which owns the licensed medical marijuana processor Franklin Bioscience OH, LLC, has purchased another company called OhiGrow, LLC.
- Verano Holdings Corp purchased its fifth dispensary in Ohio.
- Cresco Labs, which was granted a license to cultivate 25,000 square feet of grow space, supplies to 88% of the existing dispensaries in the state.
Cultivators Report Slow Growth in the Medical Marijuana Industry
In 2020, after one year of being part of Ohio’s medical cannabis program, many cultivators still struggled to understand the process and to gain momentum in the industry.
Some farmers have shifted from traditional vegetable produce into cannabis cultivation hoping that their investments will pay off.
They are also expected to invest in high-grade security, with the regulators having access to their security cameras at all times.
What inspires cultivators like George Korff, Galenas CEO, is knowing that he and his team are delivering a product that benefits the patients.
He keeps learning about each plant’s unique characteristics so that he can keep them in rotation, especially to address certain medical conditions.
With the Department of Commerce’s decision to process permits for the Ohio medical marijuana dispensary extension, as well as to accept applications for new dispensaries, we can expect that more patients will be able to access medical cannabis for their conditions.
The state continues to adjust its rules and regulations to accommodate the patient’s needs and to address the pandemic, and the cultivators learn more about the industry.
In time, they will be able to address the shortage and benefit from their investments.