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Ohio Medical Cannabis Businesses Can Soon Apply For Licenses To Sell Recreational Marijuana

“We’re excited to serve Ohioans that are just looking for a good time or perhaps responsibly as an alternative to alcohol or something to help them sleep.”


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By Megan Henry, Ohio Capital Chronicle


Ohio medical marijuana companies are gearing up to begin the process of entering the recreational marijuana business.

 

The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) recently approved regulations from the Division of Cannabis Control—meaning dispensaries can start applying for a recreational license in the coming weeks and sales could begin as soon as sometime in June.


“We will as soon as possible put in our application for dual use operations at all of our active licenses,” said Brandon Nemec, PharmaCann’s government and regulatory affairs director. PharmaCann is a Level I medical marijuana cultivation facility in Licking County. They have three dispensaries in Ohio—Cincinnati, Hillsboro and Wapakoneta.


“We are prepared at the production level to submit our applications and work with the regulators to begin operations,” Nemec said.


The applications aren’t available just yet. The DCC needs to file the rule in final form with JCARR, the Legislative Service Commission and the Secretary of State’s office by Wednesday.


Then applications will be available before June 7. Medical marijuana dispensaries can apply for a dual license so they can also sell recreational marijuana. There will also be applications available for companies that only want to sell recreational marijuana.


Selling marijuana recreationally will cut down on the illicit market, said Adam Goers, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs for the Cannabist Company.


“It is a long time coming,” he said. “The illicit marketplace is going to be displaced.”


Goers is looking forward to being able to sell to Ohioans who didn’t want to go through the process of getting a medical marijuana card.


The Cannabist Company, headquartered in New York, has locations in Dayton, Logan, Marietta, Monroe and Warren.


“We’re excited to serve Ohioans that are just looking for a good time or perhaps responsibly as an alternative to alcohol or something to help them sleep,” he said.


Ohioans voted to pass Issue 2, making it legal for adults 21 and older to smoke, vape, and ingest weed. People can also grow up to six plants with up to 12 per household.


“It’s amazing to see the voters put their voice behind this and for the state and the regulators to follow through as they have,” Nemec said.


Reclassifying marijuana


This comes as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced it will reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule III drug.


“Finally the federal government is acknowledging that cannabis has medical value, something that tens of millions of Americans could tell you,” Goers said.

Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use and come with a high potential for abuse whereas Schedule III drugs have a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.


Marijuana will remain illegal at the federal level, but reclassifying would have an impact on states like Ohio that have legalized recreational cannabis.


“The most tangible difference it’s going to make and it is, I think, a significant tangible difference is it changes the tax reality for cannabis businesses,” said Doug Berman, executive director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at Ohio State University.


The marijuana industry has had to deal with more burdensome federal tax treatment than other businesses because it’s been a Schedule I drug, Berman said.


“The big deal about the move from Schedule I to Schedule III is that will remove that tax problem so that basically, marijuana businesses will be able to deduct their costs from their profits, like any other business,” he said.


Changing the tax structure for marijuana could mean more people want to get in the marijuana industry, Berman said.


The higher taxes have caused marijuana businesses to sometimes pass on the costs to consumers, so reclassifying marijuana could mean folks see lower prices,  Berman said.

“I think the tax piece of it will likely benefit consumers looking for a more affordable product,” he said

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