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Ohio Lawmakers Approve Rules Allowing Adult-Use Marijuana Sales To Start Next Month



An Ohio legislative panel has approved a regulatory framework for the state’s marijuana market that pushes up the implementation timeline, creating a licensing scheme that could allow adult-use sales to launch next month in current medical cannabis dispensaries.

The legislature’s Joint Committee On Agency Rule Review (JCARR) gave final approval to the proposed cannabis regulations on Monday.

While regulators have until September to start issuing cannabis business licenses under the ballot initiative that voters approved last November, the Division of Cannabis Control (DCC) devised a plan to start granting dual licenses to existing medical marijuana operators to begin serving adult consumers early this summer.

That plan, as well as other rules setting up the basic infrastructure for legalization, was accepted by the committee. Applications for prospective dual licensees will be opened up no later than June 7, and they could start selling cannabis to patients and adults alike once they’re approved.

Rep. Jamie Callender (R), vice chair of JCARR, thanked the head of DCC for “the work you’ve put in on this—for doing this timely and to help move forward the will of the voters, and we look forward to watching these rules go into effect in a couple of weeks.”

He said regulators have assured him that they will have applications online prior to the new rules’ June 7 deadline, and he’s optimistic that means sales could begin by mid-June.

The expedited application launch should be welcome news for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R). While he doesn’t personally support legalization, he’s repeatedly criticized the delay in access to regulated products since voters made that choice and possession became legal in December.

Sen. William DeMora (D) also said at the meeting that he wanted to “commend” the DCC for the rules, saying they’ve “done a great job for majority these things, and I think the will of voters has been met.”

Legislative leaders had separately discussed putting together a bill to make various changes to the law, including expediting sales, but the plans have largely fallen apart amid disagreement within the GOP-controlled legislature.

The Senate did pass an amendment package just prior to legalization taking effect, but the House has not taken it up, nor has it moved to advance a different proposal that originate in the House.

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James Canepa, who was selected to serve as the first superintendent of the Division of Cannabis Control, previously said that the legislature’s delayed action could complicate regulators’ work to effectively stand up the new market.

Meanwhile, as regulators have worked to finalize regulations for the adult-use market, it already implemented a change in February that allows medical marijuana patients and caregivers to obtain or renew their registrations for only one penny. That fee was then totally eliminated with the adoption of a new rule at Monday’s JCARR meeting.

The fee elimination is part of an initial package of rules that DCC released in February to implement adult-use legalization.

Following voter approval of legalization at the ballot, the Department of Commerce was quick to publish an FAQ guide for residents to learn about the new law and timeline for implementation.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R), meanwhile, has previously pressed the legislature to enact changes to expedite recreational marijuana sales. But he’s indicated that his more immediate concern is regulating the sale of intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids such as delta-8 THC.

“This is time for the legislature to move,” the governor, who also raised the issue during his State of the State address last month, said. “We can’t do it ourselves.”

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