COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Board of Pharmacy approved 70 provisional licenses for new medical marijuana dispensaries in the state Monday afternoon, including six more in Cuyahoga County.
A provisional license means the business owners have to build the space in compliance with state medical marijuana laws and regulations. After the buildout, the staff at the Board of Pharmacy inspects the business. If the business passes, the board gives it a certificate of operation. Then the dispensary can open its doors.
The Board of Pharmacy will give each provisional licensee 270 days to become operational, a period that ends in February 2023
Currently, there are 58 licensed dispensaries in Ohio. An additional dispensary may open, depending on the outcome of ongoing litigation.
With this second round of provisional license awards, the board ultimately wants 73 more businesses with dispensary licenses. In addition to the 70 announced M, board staff are working with three companies, including one in Cuyahoga County, on obtaining information to determine whether to award them provisional licenses. That approval will come at a later time.
In Cuyahoga County, the board approved the following provisional licenses:
-OPC Retail II LLC: 1978 W. 3rd St., Cleveland
-Nectar Markets of Ohio LLC: 21100 St. Clair Ave., Euclid
-Twice the Wellness LLC: 27900 Chagrin Blvd, Woodmere
-Green Power OH LLC: 13429 Lakewood Heights Blvd, Cleveland
-Good River Wellness LLC: 27101 Euclid Ave., Euclid
-Shangri-La Dispensary Ohio LLC: 4620 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland
A seventh license will be awarded soon in Cuyahoga County. Board of Pharmacy staff are reviewing an application from Cannavitz Ventures LLC, which wants a dispensary on Lakewood Heights Boulevard in Cleveland, said Justin Sheridan, the board’s director of medical marijuana operations.
Board members are looking from Cannavitz — and all applicants who applied — articles of incorporation, business and dispensary addresses, an organizational chart of key figures in the business, tax information if possible, a business plan, a lease or purchase agreement of the property where the dispensary will be located, a floor plan, a construction budget and schedule that has been certified by an architect or contractor, documents from the municipality that the dispensary’s location doesn’t violate zoning rules, a survey showing the business won’t be within 500 feet of a school, church, public park or public library, a post-construction budget and among other documents, Sheridan said.
The state received 1,465 total applications.
The Ohio Lottery entered all the businesses into a drawing and lottery officials selected all of them.
Then Board of Pharmacy staff looked at them. The number a business was drawn in a geographic region called a “dispensary district” meant the order in which the Board of Pharmacy employees reviewed it, to ensure it had all the paperwork, business plans and documents the state required.
This is different from the first round of provisional dispensary licenses scored and awarded in a review conducted by board staff. Business owners who were not selected believed the employees were too subjective and inconsistent. As a result, many sued, and litigation continued for years.
In Cuyahoga County, four applicants in the top 14 to be drawn had what the Board of Pharmacy deemed “abandoned” applications. That’s because they never responded to the Board of Pharmacy’s request for more information.
The Board of Pharmacy rejected three Cuyahoga County businesses in the top 14. Sheridan said the reason business applications throughout the state got rejected varied, but many were within 500 feet of schools and other facilities they’re not supposed to be close to.
Why are more dispensaries needed?
In April 2021, Board of Pharmacy staff reviewed the number of dispensaries and determined and determined the state needed more, Sheridan said.
“Dispensaries on a per capita basis, when compared to other (states’) medical marijuana programs, indicated a need to increase the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Ohio,” Sheridan said.
The board staff also found the number of registered Ohio medical marijuana patients exceeded initial projections and some areas of Western Ohio have no dispensaries, and the board staff wanted to ensure patients in those areas had reasonable access, Sheridan said.
The board hopes the expansion will result in 1,200 registered patients per dispensary district.
Cuyahoga County has its own dispensary district with six dispensaries: Amplify in Cleveland Heights, The Botanist in Cleveland, RISE in Cleveland, two RISE dispensaries in Lakewood and Terrasana in Garfield Heights. Under the new expansion plan, the Board of Pharmacy plans to add another six licenses, for a total of 13.
Other areas of Northeast Ohio
-Like Cuyahoga County, Summit County also comprises its own district. It currently has three dispensaries. The board approved FRX Healthy of Cuyahoga Falls LLC in Cuyahoga Falls and Culture Retail Partners of Ohio Inc. in Akron.
-Lake, Portage and Geauga counties make up a dispensary district, currently with two dispensaries. The board approved Simple AG Ohio LLC in Ravenna, Insa Ohio LLC of Willoughby Hills and Next Level Operators LLC of Kent.
-Lorain, Medina, Wayne and Holmes counties make up a dispensary district with two dispensaries. The board approved Citizen Real Estate LLC in Lorian and CREAM Apothecaries Ohio LLC in Elyria.