Ohio medical cannabis sales peak as adult-use market launch remains stalled

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Sales of medical cannabis in Ohio’s tightly restricted market appear to have peaked, as lawmakers continue to stall the launch of the state’s recently legalized adult-use marketplace.

Licensed retailers reported selling $484 million of medical cannabis in 2023, according to state sales figures first reported in Crain’s Cleveland Business.

That total is below initial MJBizDaily projections and represents growth of only 1% from 2022 to 2023,  Crain’s reported.

It also underscores Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent push for Ohio lawmakers to take quicker action and launch a recreational marijuana marketplace.

Observers say the Ohio MMJ slowdown is at least partially attributable to strict rules that limit patient access in the state – as well as recreational cannabis available in nearby Michigan.

The state has only 175,484 patients with both an active recommendation from a physician as well as an active registration in a state database, according to Ohio Department of Commerce figures.

That’s considered low for a state with Ohio’s relatively high population, especially when compared to nearby Pennsylvania.

With a population of nearly 13 million, Pennsylvania has 433,638 registered patients, according to state data.

Sales in that state were on track to approach $1.5 billion in 2023.

Operators of Michigan adult-use cannabis dispensaries near the Ohio border say as many as half of their customers live in Ohio.

More than 55% of voters approved Issue 2 in November, making Ohio the 24th state to legalize adult-use marijuana.

But the state still has no clear path to initiating sales, even though possession and cultivation became legal in December.

That all amounts to a “goofy situation” that is “not what people intended,” DeWine, who opposed Issue 2, told The Intelligencer.

“All this is doing is fostering a bigger Black market because people think they can buy it legally and advertising is being done.”

DeWine called on take quicker action “to take action and fix that.”