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In the coming months, 130 new adult-use cannabis dispensaries could open in Ohio, the country’s 7th most populous state, the Columbus Dispatch reported last week. 

On June 7th, the Ohio Division of Cannabis Control (DCC) began accepting applications from medical cannabis dispensaries for dual-use licenses that will allow them to sell recreational marijuana as well. By last Friday, 219 applications had been filed.

Adult-use cannabis legalization officially went into effect in December 2023, a month after voters approved ballot measure Issue 2 by a margin of 57 to 43, making Ohio the 24th state to legalize cannabis. The law allows adults over 21 to possess up to 2.5 ounces of weed and grow up to six plants. It also allows for the establishment of a legal cannabis retail market.  

While it remains unclear when adult-use sales will start in Ohio, DCC Superintendent James Canepa has suggested that dispensaries that receive approval for dual licenses could begin sales as soon as this month.

Speaking to Clevealnd.com, Canepa said there will be a “trickle in the beginning” and that businesses will take their time launching adult-use sales until they're sure they have enough product and employees to meet demand. 

“Everybody keeps trying to get me to circle a day, and it’s impossible because like with liquor, you have to process what the applicant says they are. You have to make them as they come to you. And there’s a whole checklist that they have to meet.”

The checklist, according to Canepa, includes necessities such as security, point-of-sale systems, and badging to specify in which parts of business employees can work.      

According to Ohio Department of Commerce Public Information Officer Jamie Crawford, eight facilities - including testing labs, cultivators, and processors have been informed that they qualify for a provisional license.

How big will the Ohio adult use market be?

A study published in October 2023 by the Columbus-based group Scioto Analysis asserted that recreational cannabis legalization in Ohio will bring about $260 million into the state economy every year, including just over $190 million in annual tax revenue.

“Our summation model suggests a wide range of possible alternatives, though, with 90% of likely scenarios showing the net present value ranging from a net loss of $150 million to a net gain of $1.9 billion.”

They also predict that Ohio will add roughly 3,300 new jobs in the first year after legalization and that “assuming these jobs are full-time and pay matches the average wage across the state of Ohio, this will amount to about $190 million in wage benefits for workers across the state.” 

In November, MJBizDaily wrote that their projections suggest that adult-use cannabis sales in Ohio could total $1.5 billion to $2 billion in the first year of sales, growing to $3.5 billion to $4 billion by the fourth year. 

Not everyone is celebrating the proposed windfall though. An Ohio State University report stated that as of June 13, more than 50 Ohio cities have banned recreational marijuana businesses. 

Will Pennsylvania be next?

Also on Monday, lawmakers in Pennsylvania unveiled a bipartisan bill to legalize adult-use sales in the commonwealth. 

Presented by state representatives Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) and Emily Kinkead (D-Allegheny), lawmakers have said the bill would create a regulated cannabis market to be supervised by the state Department of Agriculture and would prioritize public and consumer safety, social equity, and criminal justice reform.

An assessment carried out by the state’s Independent Fiscal Office in March stated that legal cannabis sales could bring in as much as $271 million in general fund revenue by fiscal year 2024-2025. 

“By prioritizing public safety and consumer protection, this legislation will build on the successful regulatory structure of the state’s medical cannabis program, continuing stringent standards for product quality, packaging, and labeling to ensure the well-being of all consumers,” Kaufer said. 

“It is well past time for the Commonwealth to legalize cannabis for recreational use, address the injustices of the failed War on Drugs, and ensure that Pennsylvanians can benefit from this industry in the same way our neighboring states have,” said Kinkead.

Then-Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act into law in April 2016 and legal medical cannabis sales began almost two years later in February 2018.

A survey published in February found that 64 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters agree that the use of recreational cannabis should be legal.

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Ben Hartman, Content Manager

Ben Hartman is a cannabis writing and marketing professional with over 15 years of experience in journalism and digital content creation. Ben was formerly the senior writer and research and analysis lead for The Cannigma.

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