Ohio Board of Pharmacy to Award Up to 73 New Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses

May 7, 2021Articles

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy recently announced it will award up to an additional 73 dispensary licenses across Ohio. Dispensary licenses will be awarded through an application and lottery process that is expected to be finalized during the spring or summer of 2021. This expansion will bring the total number of dispensary licenses in Ohio to 130 and is expected to ameliorate patient dissatisfaction with regards to the price of medical marijuana products and lack of equal access.  

The decision to increase the number of dispensary licenses was prompted by an Ohio rule which requires the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to analyze certain enumerated data and factors at least once every two  years in order to determine whether a sufficient number of dispensaries exists. Through the examination of this data, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy determined additional dispensary licenses were necessary for the following reasons:

  • Ohio’s number of registered medical marijuana patients is exponentially greater than the number of patients initially expected to be served by the Medical Marijuana Control Program. The original number of dispensary licenses was intended to accommodate up to 24,000 patients, however Ohio currently has over 135,000 registered patients. 
  • Three dispensary districts have no dispensaries, and even those districts with multiple dispensaries face access issues due to the higher number of registered patients in those districts. 
  • Ohio’s current number of dispensaries is very low when compared to other states with operational medical marijuana programs.

While details of the application requirements have not yet been announced, there will be at least one significant difference in this second round of dispensary applications: It will not be entirely merit-based. All “viable” applications will be entered into a lottery system for the chosen dispensary district with available licenses. The Board of Pharmacy anticipates the use of the lottery system will result in “a fairer, more streamlined system for awarding dispensary licenses.”[1]    

Notably, there has not been an increase to the number of dispensary licenses allowed to be held by an owner. As such, owners may not hold more than five  dispensary licenses at any given time pursuant to Ohio Administrative Code Rule 3796:6-2-06.      

More information on the Ohio Board of Pharmacy’s decision to issue new dispensary licenses can be found on the Board of Pharmacy’s website, available here and here. Please contact your Dinsmore attorney if you have any questions about the application process or if you would like assistance in submitting an application. We will provide further updates as they are announced by the Board of Pharmacy.