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Ohio Recreational Marijuana Sales Could Launch In June Under Regulators’ Expedited Plan, Lawmaker Says



Ohio marijuana sales could launch as soon as June under a regulatory plan that a legislative rulemaking committee is set to approve as lawmakers’ plans to revise the voter-approved legalization law continue to stall out.

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

Rep. Jamie Callender (R), a proponent of cannabis reform in the legislature, told News 5 Cleveland that members of the Joint Committee On Agency Rule Review (JCARR), which he chairs, are positioned to accept the proposed regulations at a meeting on May 13.

“We could have retailers—recreational licensed retailers—in Ohio by mid-June,” he said. “We should begin to see legal recreational sales of marijuana in Ohio certainly before July 4th weekend.”

“The distribution of retail sites—they are already in existence for medical—will be able to get a dual license,” he said. “The application will be available, absent a problem in JCARR, which I don’t anticipate, prior to June 7.”

Because the licensing process for medical marijuana dispensaries is already rigorous, Callender said dual license applications could be approved within a week once the regulations are put in place.

“There’s a lot of other issues around the marijuana market and industry that may need to be looked at, but this will give the governor and the Senate the immediacy that they were looking for,” Callender said, referring to the proposed rules on early sales. “It takes one of the issues off the table successfully.”

“In these really contentious times politically, it’s kind of nice to see the system actually working for the people—the way that people wanted it to,” the lawmaker said. “I’m kind of proud that I played some role in helping make sure the will of the voters is occurring and occurring promptly.”

The expedited sales 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.

Legislative leaders had 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.

House Speaker Jason Stephens (R) told the Statehouse News Bureau on Tuesday that “there’s just not that consensus right now” to substantively change what voters approved.

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.

“It will play out as the voters passed it, for now,” Minority Leader Allison Russo (D) said. “I am not very optimistic that there will be some large, cannabis bill that comes out of these chambers, maybe some small changes around the edges.”

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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 work to finalize regulations for the adult-use market, it already implemented a change last month that allows medical marijuana patients and caregivers to obtain or renew their registrations for only one penny.

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.

Separately, the governor has stressed that he also wants to see lawmakers to tackle restrictions for sales of intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoid products such as delta-8 THC.

Pennsylvania Lawmakers File Marijuana Legalization Bill Ahead Of Committee Hearing This Week

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