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Rules for Ohio's Pending Adult-use Cannabis Program Moving 'Quickly'

Rules for Ohio's Pending Adult-use Cannabis Program Moving 'Quickly'

Administrative rulemaking for the state’s pending recreational marijuana program is moving full steam ahead, one industry trade association says, with sales likely to start by the third quarter of the year.

Cannabis possession, use and home growth went legal for Ohioans who are 21 and older at the end of 2023 with voter approval of Issue 2. But sales to those adult-use, non-medical customers is not yet legal. The Ohio Department of Commerce is hammering out the program through its recently formed Division of Cannabis Control.

“They have been moving very, very quickly to get a rule package in place and finalized to meet or, it would not surprise me, to beat the timelines outlined in Issue 2,” said Tom Haren, a spokesperson for trade association the Ohio Cannabis Coalition (OHCANN).

Haren also led the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which was behind Issue 2.

Since February, the division has submitted “tranches” of draft regulations for consideration, he said. Some are scheduled for hearing in front of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review next month.

The current plan, Haren said, is for licensure applications to go live in June. The first round of applications reserved for existing medical dispensaries seeking dual licensure, with social equity applications and new applications to follow.

“We've seen in other states they follow the same model because you don't have to start back at square one,” Haren said in a Thursday interview.

First-round licenses are on track to go out by the Issue 2 deadline of early September, but possibly sooner, he said.

Ohio legalized medical marijuana nearly eight years ago, and the medical program isn't going away. Product-wise, everything sold through that program can be sold for recreational use. But new offerings will likely hit shelves that would not have been available for medical-only customers, Haren said—for instance, products that can be smoked.

“Under the medical program, combustion of marijuana flower is prohibited. In the adult use program, combustion is allowed,” Haren said. “For instance, a medical patient couldn't buy a pre-roll under the medical program unless they were over 21 and bought it as an adult use product and then paid the 10% tax.”

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