Ohio recreational marijuana sales could launch by mid-June

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Recreational marijuana sales in Ohio could begin in two months, far ahead of previous estimates as regulators move quickly to establish the newest adult-use market in the Midwest.

“We could have retailers, recreational licensed retailers, in Ohio by mid-June,” state Rep. Jamie Callender told Cleveland TV station WEWS.

“We should begin to see legal recreational sales of marijuana in Ohio certainly before July 4th weekend.”

The Independence Day holiday is one of the best days of the year for cannabis retailers.

Previous estimates put the launch of recreational sales in the fall or winter.

Lawmakers can’t agree

Part of the reason the launch date has been moved up is the ongoing stalemate at the state Legislature.

It appears Issue 2, the adult-use legalization measure Ohio voters approved in November, will likely be enacted without changes by lawmakers, who can’t find common ground on several proposals.

“It will play out as the voters passed it, for now,” House Minority Leader Allison Russo told the Statehouse News Bureau.

“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.”

Meanwhile, the state’s Department of Cannabis Control is progressing through the rulemaking process.

What rules allow

Its proposals and Issue 2 requirements include:

  • Allowing existing medical marijuana dispensaries to apply for a dual-facility license so they can serve both MMJ patients and adult-use shoppers.
  • Subjecting adult-use sales to a 10% excise tax in addition to an existing 5.75% sales tax.
  • Permitting Level 1 and Level 2 marijuana license holders to expand cultivation and manufacturing operations.
  • Allowing personal home grows of six plants but no more than 12 per household.

Retailers would be allowed to offer drive-thru windows, online ordering, curbside pickup and self-serve kiosks, according to Cleveland TV station WCPO-TV.

Hours of operation could be extended from 9 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET.

Retailers would be prohibited from operating within 500 feet of schools, churches, libraries, playgrounds or parks.

While Ohio has yet to develop a social equity program, Issue 2 also mandates that a portion of cannabis tax revenue be earmarked to create opportunities for disenfranchised applicants.