Ohio will begin accepting applications to grow medical marijuana in June

Cleveland.com/April 7, 2017/Jackie Borchardt

COLUMBUS, Ohio — State officials will begin accepting applications to license 24 medical marijuana grow operations in June and will review them in July.

Once awarded, license holders will have nine months to meet all the requirements of the program.

The Ohio Department of Commerce plans to release application forms and instructions in the next two to three weeks, according to a fact sheet released Friday morning. Department officials will then hold a webinar to go over the process and answer any questions before growers begin applying for licenses in June.

Gov. John Kasich signed Ohio’s medical marijuana law in June 2016. It allows people with one of 21 medical conditions to buy and use marijuana if recommended by a physician. Most of the details of the program were left to three state regulatory agencies to decide before September 2017.

State officials are still finalizing the application process and rules for marijuana product manufacturers, testing labs and dispensaries.

The state will issue two types of cultivator licenses: 12 “level I” licenses for up to 25,000 square feet of growing space and 12 “level II” licenses for up to 3,000 square feet. The space was increased because of concerns the number of growers and allowed square footage were too little to serve Ohio’s patient population.

Department officials can decide in September 2018 whether to issue additional licenses or grant additional grow space to existing license holders.

The license fees and financial requirements are among the highest of the country’s 28 medical marijuana programs: a $20,000 nonrefundable application fee and $180,000 license fee for a level I license and a $2,000 application fee and $18,000 license fee for a level II license.

Other requirements for cultivators:

  • A person or company cannot own or invest in more than one cultivator.
  • Applicants must show local support for the plan and no bans or moratoriums can be in place.
  • Demonstrate the facility will be secured by fencing, 24-hour surveillance and security alarms.
  • Maintain an inventory of at least 20 pounds of medical marijuana for large growers and 10 pounds for small growers.

How will applications be scored?

Applications will be screened first to determine whether they are complete. A separate panel of reviewers will then score the applications based on criteria set by the rules. The applications reviewed in this stage won’t include identifiable information.

The department sought help in February developing the scoring system, but as of last Wednesday hadn’t yet hired someone, according to a department spokeswoman.