Ohio’s medical marijuana industry is more tightly regulated than any other type of business in the Buckeye State, and industry insiders say that regulation has delayed the opening of many dispensaries.
Four months after dispensaries were officially allowed to sell marijuana in Ohio, only 18 of the 56 dispensaries that were granted provisional licenses have been given operating licenses. No dispensaries in Summit County had received an operating license as of last week.
The resulting lack of competition is one of many factors contributing to high-priced products, said Mary Jane Borden, co-founder of the Ohio Rights Group, which advocates for medicinal cannabis users. The expense could send some patients to the illegal market, she said.
Some of the delay stems from the fledgling industry’s growing pains, industry experts said. But many also said that the stringent application process is largely to blame. Before dispensaries acquire their operating licenses, they must show the Ohio Board of Pharmacy that their operations follow the plans outlined in their application to the letter.
“A big selling point was that we were going to have solar panels on the roof,” said Bobby George, who owns Rise, a chain of five dispensaries in Ohio. The pharmacy board “made sure we did it.”
Rise opened two dispensaries, in Toledo and Lorain, on May 1, and its three others have provisional licenses.