COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – An array of new medical marijuana dispensaries could open their doors in Ohio — including nine in Columbus.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy issued 70 provisional licenses to hopeful medical marijuana dispensaries on May 16 in order to accommodate a growing number of patients and demand for the drug, according to the board’s policy and public affairs liaison Kylynne Johnson.

“There’s been long lines, difficulty to get the products in, sometimes a long distance between their homes and a product,” Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) said. “So yes, I really do think there’s a need.”

About 142,000 Ohioans have an active medical marijuana registration – an increase of nearly 4,000 in registrations since March – with 56 dispensaries operating throughout the state, according to monthly reports from the Board of Pharmacy. If the 70 provisional licensees are officially approved, Ohio would be home to 126 dispensaries. Since the medical marijuana program’s inception in 2016, physicians have issued a total of 487,571 recommendations to their patients, according to the board.

Provisional licensees have up to 270 days to open a medical marijuana dispensary that abides by the state pharmacy board’s rules and regulations, Johnson said.

“A provisional dispensary license is kind of that go-ahead — go ahead and construct the space,” Johnson said. “Once they receive approval and a certificate of operation, they’ll be able to open their doors.”

To receive a provisional license, Johnson said aspiring dispensary owners whose applications are approved by the board are entered into a random drawing conducted by the Ohio Lottery Commission.

In this round of awarding provisional licenses, 1,465 applicants were entered into the lottery. Whether an applicant is entered into the lottery, Johnson said, depends on a few factors, including whether the proposed location is within 500 feet of a prohibited facility; and whether the company has demonstrated its financial ability to afford a dispensary.

Provisional licenses were awarded to the following companies that want to set up shop in Columbus:

  • Trulieve OH, Inc: 8295 Sancus Blvd.
  • Cherokee Remedies 4, LLC: 4066 Morse Road
  • Parkland Ventures, LLC: 2765 Gender Road
  • GNCO 123 LLC: 3111 E. Main St.
  • OPC Retail II, LLC: 724 W. Gay St.
  • Hempnotize, LLC: 324 E. Long St.
  • Elevated Growth OH LLC: 7520 High Cross Blvd.
  • Amplify Dispensaries, LLC: 5304 N. Hamilton Road
  • Ohio Bound Inc.: 914 Cleveland Ave.

Huffman, a sponsor of the 2016 bill that legalized medical marijuana in Ohio, said allowing more dispensaries to set up shop in Ohio will drive down the price of cannabis. Other factors that could impact the drug in-state include an attempt at a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana with a statewide vote. That has been sidelined at least for the 2022 election cycle, but could be considered again in 2023.

Greater competition among dispensaries — and the additional supply that will come to Ohio — will likely spur drug costs to decrease, Huffman said.

“This is going to make the industry more accessible, a better price, better consumer-focused because there will be closer ones and there will be more competition.”

Huffman is also sponsoring Senate Bill 261 to streamline the process for businesses vying for a medical marijuana license, and permit physicians to prescribe the drug where they “reasonably” believe it will help a patient. SB 216 would open the door for more medical conditions to be eligible for treatment with marijuana, he said, and the issuance of additional provisional licenses will allow more Ohioans to seek care.

“It gives them the opportunity to try and see what type of medical marijuana would be best for their personal medical problem,” he said.