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Ohio marijuana dispensaries await final green light to begin selling recreational weed

 Jars of marijuana line a shelf at marijuana dispensary.
Stephen Groves
Jars of marijuana line a shelf at The Flower Shop Dispensary in Sioux Falls, S.D. on Oct. 14, 2022.

More than 100 Ohio marijuana dispensaries and their providers received provisional licenses to sell recreational weed, but all of them are still awaiting a final green light from the Ohio Division of Cannabis Control.

That final green light is known as a "certificate of operation" which many of the dispensaries already have to sell medical marijuana. Until these certificates are issued, the dispensaries that applied and got a provisional license can only sell to medical customers.

Ohio Division of Cannabis Control spokesperson James Crawford said the initiated statute Ohio voters passed in November, known as Issue 2, set June 7 as the deadline for the division to start accepting applications and Sept. 7 as the deadline to start issuing the certificates.

So far the agency has received 244 applications to convert active medical marijuana licensees to dual-use cannabis licensees. The agency notified 182 facilities that they have qualified for a provisional license. Those include:

  • 6 Testing labs
  • 33 Cultivators
  • 39 Processors
  • 104 Dispensaries

Crawford said the agency is continuing to review and process applications roughly in the order in which completed applications have been received.
Crawford said a number of factors go into what comes next and how quickly the certificates will be issued so dispensaries can begin selling weed to all Ohio adults. The business has to file a complete application, certify if employee badging is complete, certify surveillance standards are met and when any inspection requirements are complete, including the required standards for points-of-sale.

"However, current medical marijuana licensees who have already met the requirements for dual-use licensure and have their points-of-sale properly configured are anticipated to have a much quicker turnaround for issuance of a Certificate of Operation," Crawford said.

Terrasana is a dispensary with locations in Columbus and around the state that applied and received provisional licenses. The company got provisional licenses for its locations in Columbus and Springfield, but are awaiting the agency to give one to its Fremont and Garfield Heights locations.

Columbus marijuana dispensary Terrasana spokesperson Nikki Stanley said her company and others in the industry expect the supply side of the industry will likely get certified first and then dispensaries. But, Stanley said there hasn't been much movement from the government to start that next step.

"A lot of people have gotten their provisionals, but no one has moved to that next step. And we haven't heard of anyone getting inspected either. So beyond the paperwork aspect as well, we haven't heard of any movement," Stanley said.

Terrasana, located at 656 Grandview Ave., is one of 10 dispensaries in Columbus that received a provisional license. The others include:

  • Bloom Medicinals at 1361 Georgesville Rd.
  • OPC Retail at 724 W. Gay St.
  • Cherokee Remedies at 4066 Morse Rd.
  • Amplify Dispensaries at 5304 Hamilton Rd.
  • Trulieve at 8295 Sancus Blvd.
  • Herbal Wellness Center Columbus at 2950 E. Main St.
  • Trulieve at 2950 N. High St.
  • Main Street Medical Cannabis at 3111 E. Main St.
  • Verdant Creations at 1243 N. Cassady Ave.

Stanley said they anticipate being able to start sales as soon as they are allowed.
"We are preparing as if it could happen tomorrow. So we're getting all of our operations ironed out. All of our signage and all of those things ready so that we're ready to go. But we're thinking it's going to be probably closer to August at this point," Stanley said.

Stanley said they have heard from the state of Ohio that once the agency is given the "green light" to issue certificates of operation, they can move through a "good chunk" per day.

Stanley said that what companies are still unsure about is if they can start selling as soon as those certificates are issued.

Crawford said there won't be a single set date when sales in Ohio will begin. He said it will be up to the retailer based on staffing, stock and other considerations as to which day they will begin sales, but it is expected it will be some time during the summer.

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.