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Ohio's marijuana dispensaries preparing for recreational application launch and sales

Terrasana Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Columbus, Ohio
George Shillcock
Terrasana Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Columbus, Ohio.

Many of Ohio's medical marijuana dispensaries are preparing to apply for adult-use recreational licenses when the state opens up applications Friday.

Terrasana in Columbus, Cleveland, Springfield and Fremont is one of the many dispensaries in the state that intends to apply for those licenses. The company's Director of Marketing, Nikki Stanley, told WOSU the Division of Cannabis Control's process has been confusing at times.

Stanley says most customers are excited, but many have questions about prices and demand for Terrasana's products once sales start. Stanley says that could happen soon.

"We're hoping July, early July would be amazing. But it's really, again, very much a guessing game," Stanley said.

Terrasana isn't the only dispensary preparing to apply and receive these dual licenses from the state to sell recreational and medical marijuana. Stanley said she and her company have heard that most other medical marijuana dispensaries plan to apply for these licenses.

Medical dispensaries are being prioritized for now before the state gives new, non-medical dispensaries licenses to start selling to non-medical customers.

Stanley says it is hard to advertise and even promote adult-use marijuana sales starting soon. Right now the Columbus location has a sign on its door that says: "ISSUE 2 UPDATE. Non-medical sales are still not allowed. To all current patients, we recommend renewing your card as non-medical sales may not begin until September 2024 in Ohio."

Harvest of Ohio put up a similar poster in its window in its Columbus location on North High Street in Clintonville, before taking it down. That sign read "Adult-use marijuana sales will begin September 2024. Issue 2 passed!"

Harvest, a three-store dispensary in Columbus, Athens and Beavercreek, recently sold to a much larger medical marijuana company called Trulieve. The company owns dozens of locations across the country, but only owned one Ohio location before the sale in Westerville.

Stanley said prices may be high at first once recreational sales start, but the market may settle in a year.

"We're really going to follow what the market is doing. You know, we don't want to be like so much cheaper than the guy next door, but we also don't want to be more expensive either," Stanley said.

Stanley said supplies for a marijuana flower may be more constrained at first and lead to higher prices. But processed goods like vapes and edibles should be more steady and therefore the prices might not increase as much.

"We hear a lot in our Fremont location about people going to Michigan, which is illegal, to cross the state borders with cannabis. But the prices are going to go up, because there is a lot more demand for the same supply," Stanley said.

Stanley said Terrasanna's own facility in Ohio is new and still getting up and running.

Stanley also said the dispensary in Columbus had 5,000 medical customers in the past year. Statewide, all of Terrasanna's locations had about 13,000 customers in that timespan.

"We're just really excited to be able to welcome so many additional people into the market. We're excited to work with them," Stanley said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.