If OH lawmakers stall, regulator to issue adult-use marijuana licenses Sept. 7

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Ohio’s top cannabis regulator plans to issue adult-use marijuana business licenses on Sept. 7 at the latest if infighting in the Legislature continues to halt momentum on establishing rules, certain tax rates and other policies.

Jim Canepa, director of the Ohio Cannabis Control (OCC),  told Columbus TV station WBNS he expects his agency to approve 300-350 adult-use licenses on that September date.

The first batch of dual-purpose licenses will be awarded to existing medical cannabis retailers.

Meanwhile, Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine is pushing for the licensing of adult-use businesses immediately, even though the state’s House and Senate seem far apart on several key aspects of policy.

The more conservative Senate has passed a proposal to allow MMJ dispensaries to sell recreational cannabis immediately, but the bill would limit home grows, cap THC levels and ban the vast majority of vapes.

Such restrictions ignore the will of the voters and the spirit of Issue 2, the legalization ballot initiative.

So the bill would be dead on arrival, with State Rep. Jamie Callender blocking it, according to Cleveland TV station WEWS.

“We are continuing to do nothing,” he told WEWS.

The House prefers that the OCC establish rules and policies in line with the legislation voters approved.

The governor is pushing for cannabis safety measures and asking lawmakers to establish laws around intoxicating delta-8 as well.

“People should be able to go in and buy a product they know is not pesticides have not been used to produce it, they know what the quality is, they know what the potency is,” DeWine told WEWS.

A few pending rules will likely create challenges for new adult-use license holders statewide, including:

  • A ban on billboard advertising, similar to restrictions in Maryland after voters overwhelmingly approved legalization in November 2022.
  • A 1-mile buffer between retailers, which is believed to be the largest distance in any recreational market.
  • A 500-foot buffer between a store and a school or church.