Cannabis cultivation is legal pertaining only to medical cannabis in Delaware County, Ohio. On September 8, 2016, Ohio became the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana with the implementation of Substitute House Bill 523 (H.B. 523). It is worth noting that despite the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana in Ohio, the use of marijuana for recreational purposes is still considered illegal in the state. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP, was established to regulate the use, cultivation, and sale of medical marijuana. The Ohio Department of Commerce mandates the issuance and regulation of licenses to qualified cultivators. As of March 2023, applications for the said license are closed until further notice. Moreover, the Department of Commerce maintains a database of cultivator license holders which revealed that among the 37 cultivator licensees granted to operate in the state, there is no authorized cultivator licensee found in Delaware County as of March 2023.
The Department of Commerce is required to grant at least 15% of all cultivator licenses to economically disadvantaged individuals who are residents of the State of Ohio and citizens of the United States. The business shall then be “owned and controlled” by these individuals owning at least 51% of the company.
There are two types of cultivator licenses issued by the Department of Commerce:
This license is capped to 12 massive cultivator licensees with a required area of 25,000 to 50,000 square feet.
This license is given to 12 small cultivator licensees with a required area of 3,000 to 6,000 square feet.
According to MMCP, the Department of Commerce has already awarded 23 Level I cultivators and 14 Level II cultivators in the State of Ohio. As for the application fees and other related fees for each Level of the licensee, please refer to the chart below.
|LICENSE||LEVEL I CULTIVATOR LICENSEE||LEVEL II CULTIVATOR LICENSEE|
|NON-REFUNDABLE LICENSE APPLICATION FEE||$20,000||$2,000|
|NON-REFUNDABLE CERTIFICATE OF OPERATION FEE||$180,000||$18,000|
|NON-REFUNDABLE ANNUAL LICENSE RENEWAL FEE||$200,000||$20,000|
|NON-REFUNDABLE PROCESSING FEE FOR CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP OR LOCATION||$1,000|
|REPLACEMENT FEE FOR CERTIFICATION OF OPERATION||$100|
|PLANT-ONLY PROCESSOR LICENSE FEE||$5,000||$500|
|RENEWAL FEE FOR PLANT-ONLY PROCESSOR LICENSE||$5,000||$500|
Furthermore, a Level 1 license holder cannot apply for a Level II license and vice versa as stated in House Bill 523. This provision aims to ensure fair competition in the industry.
Licensed cultivators are expected to produce at least 15 pounds of medical cannabis within 120 days or at least be able to sustain a number of medical cannabis supplies. Level I cultivators should at least have 20 pounds of medical marijuana and Level II cultivators should have at least 10 pounds of medical marijuana ready to be sold to licensed processors and dispensaries. Otherwise, the license to operate will be revoked.
In the event that there will be an increase in demand for medical marijuana around the state, licensed cultivators can apply for an expansion of their cultivation area which shall be granted at the discretion of the Department of Commerce. The expansion will not exceed more than 25,000 square feet for Level I cultivators and 3.000 square feet for Level II cultivators. The cultivator facility should be at least 500 feet away from schools, churches, public libraries, public playgrounds, or public parks.
A licensed cultivator should follow the rules and regulations stipulated in Rule 3796:2-2-01 such as providing adequate areas for each function within the facility or area, proper documentation of inventory, and sustaining a hygienic condition, especially around the area of marijuana cultivation, and ensuring that all needed requirements for safe and consistent cultivation of marijuana are met. In addition to this, only approved pesticides, fertilizers, and other agricultural chemicals are allowed for cultivating medical cannabis. Water should also be potable and safe by ensuring the supply is regulated. It is important to note as well that expiration dates on packaging cannot exceed more than one year from its harvest dates.
A licensed cultivator should keep in mind these packaging requirements when distributing cannabis products to a processor, all shall be approved by the Department of Commerce: packaging should be securely sealed and resistant to light, while written texts should be clear and readable. On that note, a plant-only licensed cultivator should follow the same packaging requirements when dispensing medical cannabis to a retail facility.
The licensed cultivator has the option to create a free sample jar of the cannabis plant for the dispensary facility, giving qualified patients and caregivers a sniff of the product before they decide to buy. The sample is then to be abolished and should not be sold by the dispensary.
Under H.B. 523, a licensed cultivator should discard medical marijuana products that are no longer usable or needed and must be disposed of appropriately in the following manner:
In a secured and approved container by the licensed cultivator’s choice of the waste removal company
Medical marijuana waste shall be integrated with a compostable product (i.e. paper, food waste, etc.)
The discarding process should be recorded under video surveillance
A security plan is also an added requirement to ensure the utmost security of the cultivator facility. There should be a sufficient alarm system for security, secure barriers surrounding the waste disposal areas outside the facility, restricted access within the facility, and most importantly, the facility should have a reserved security alarm system. All security systems will be checked annually by a third party.
Licensed cultivators are strictly not allowed, in any way, to sell marijuana directly to patients and caregivers, to consume medical marijuana within their facilities, to produce more than the required number of medical marijuana in their area, and to sell marijuana plant products containing more than 35% of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
According to H.B. 523, cannabis manufacturing is legal in Delaware County but is limited only to medical marijuana. As of December 21, 2022, there are 46 processor licensees operating in the State of Ohio, but none is found to be operating in Delaware County. A processor license applicant shall pay a non-refundable licensee fee of $10,000 and thereafter, a $90,000 non-refundable fee upon being granted a certificate of operation. To renew the licensee’s certificate of operation, a payment of $100,000 shall be made annually. Other fees such as replacement fees for lost documents, relocation fees, transfer of ownership fees, and advertisement fees will follow that of a licensed cultivator’s fees. It is important to highlight that it’s not possible for anyone to possess more than one processor certificate of operation simultaneously.
A registered processor must ensure that the business follows strict regulations and processes to guarantee the security, sustainability, and appropriate handling of medicinal cannabis. The processor facility must be at least 500 feet from schools, playgrounds, churches, libraries, or parks. It is also the responsibility of the processor license holder to ensure all its employees are trained to safely operate types of equipment, have knowledge of the use, handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals for the production of medical marijuana, and have skills to execute the standards for food safety. In addition to this, packaging and proper labeling are a must in maintaining medicinal cannabis integrity. To better prepare for the unexpected, there should be a contingency recall protocol in the event a medical marijuana contamination occurs, and a strict security plan to protect the facility from theft.
It is important to note that a licensed processor should not have any tied investments or proprietorship of a laboratory license nor can they apply for a laboratory license. Furthermore, as granted by the Department of Commerce, the percentage of processor business ownership follows the same percentage as that of the cultivator licensees’ with regard to economically disadvantaged groups such as African Americans, American Indians, Latinos, and Asians.
A licensed processor is expected to maintain an amount of $250,000 in an escrow account in the State of Ohio, which will serve as the bond payable to the Department of Commerce. This will then be reduced to $75,000 once the licensed processor maintains a full operation and a consistent supply of medical cannabis is achieved.
Only the retail of medical cannabis is made legal in Delaware County, Ohio as stipulated in H.B. 523. The issuance of licenses and regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries are authorized by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Medical cannabis can only be sold to registered and qualified patients who are at least 18 years of age and caregivers in the State. If the patient is below 18 years of age, he/she must be accompanied by a registered caregiver. They should be able to provide a valid registry identification card and a current and valid state photo identification. There will be a 45-day notification by the State Board of Pharmacy prior to the expiry of the registration card. A patient’s 90-day medical cannabis prescription will be divided into two dispensing periods. Additionally, the caregiver has the option to purchase a 46-day prescription on behalf of the patient’s first dispensing period. Provided below are the medical cannabis forms that are permitted and prohibited to be sold in the State of Ohio:
A single dose of each permitted form of medical marijuana shall not exceed 55 milligrams of THC.
As of March 2023, there are 68 dispensaries operating in the State of Ohio, 1 of which is operating in Delaware City, Delaware County.
The requirements to acquire licensure for a dispensary facility follow the same laws for a cultivator and processor license with regard to conducting criminal background checks for all individuals associated with the business, the location of the facility, financial capabilities, and the percentage of business ownership with regards to the minority group. Added to this, a site plan should show the dispensary department, restricted areas, waiting rooms, consultation rooms for patients and caregivers, a secured delivery bay, a day-storage area, a mantrap or access control vestibules to the dispensary rooms, a vault, and parking - this plan should be signed by a licensed contractor or architect showing the projected costs as well.
A dispensary license holder shall own not more than 5 dispensary certificates of operation permitted by the State Board of Pharmacy. All dispensary certificate of operation expires on July 1st of every odd-numbered year regardless of the date it’s been issued or renewed.
See below the amount of medical marijuana a qualified patient and a caregiver can purchase per day.
|AUTHORIZED FORM OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA||WHOLE DAY UNIT||TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS|
|Plant material||2.83 grams||283.5 grams|
|Patch for transdermal administration, lotion, cream, or ointment||Up to 295 milligrams of THC||29.5 grams of THC|
|Oil, tincture, capsule, or edible for oral administration||Up to 110 milligrams of THC||11 grams of THC|
|Oil for vaporization||Up to 590 milligrams of THC||59 grams of THC|
A dispensary license holder should maintain an escrow amount of $50,000 to ensure the licensee adheres to the state tax requirements. This shall serve as a requirement bond with the State Board of Pharmacy for the purposes of dispensary license issuance, certificate maintenance, and license reactivation.
All dispensary employees are required to have a dispensary associate key employee license issued by the State Board of Pharmacy once the individual complies with all requirements set under Rule 3796:6-2-07.
In the event the dispensary license holder decides to relocate, the State Board of Pharmacy shall be notified with the submission of proper documentation. As the licensed dispensary holder is still given permission to dispense at the present location while the certificate of operation is still pending release, the dispensary cannot sell medical cannabis in both locations while it waits for the new certificate of operation for the new location. It is also the responsibility of the licensed dispensary holder to notify its existing patients of their new location.
Licensed dispensaries cannot give out free medical marijuana samples to registered and qualified patients or caregivers. Packaging of medical cannabis should contain proper labeling of the following details:
Product name, form, dose, product identifier, quantity
Date and quantity dispenses including weight
Name and registry number of patient
Name, address, and license number of the dispensary
A warning of the product, "This product may cause impairment and may be habit-forming;"
The statement, "This product may be unlawful outside of the State of Ohio;"
If the product is not of plant form material, there should be the following details included: date of product manufacture, list of all ingredients including allergens, and a statement saying, "Caution: When eaten or swallowed, the effects and impairment caused by this drug may be delayed."
Medical cannabis should be in a child-resistant container. All patient records who received the containers shall be kept for a minimum of three years. When being handed over to the qualified patient, the container should be placed inside an opaque bag for proper concealment.
Dispensaries can only operate between 7 am - 9 am ET. There should be at least 2 employees present at the dispensary facility during operational hours. In the event that the dispensary decides to close for more than two days, the license holder shall notify the State Board of Pharmacy.
No. Under H.B. 523, the MMCP prohibits the delivery of medical cannabis to a patient in Delaware County, even medical marijuana cardholders. However, registered caregivers are permitted to deliver medical marijuana to their registered patients. Moreover, medical cannabis delivery is also limited to and from licensed facilities. The transport vehicles used should be from a licensed transporter under the Department of Commerce.
A patient shall first get a medical assessment from a certified registered physician who can recommend medical marijuana. The physician will then create the patient’s profile in the Patient and Caregiver Registry requiring the patient’s valid government identification card. As of February 18, 2022, below are the medical conditions that are accepted to participate in Ohio’s medical marijuana program:
Traumatic brain injury
Spinal cord disease or injury
Sickle cell anemia
post-traumatic stress disorder
Positive status for HIV
Chronic or intractable pain
Inflammatory bowel disease
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Registered patients and caregivers are expected to pay a yearly registration fee of $50 for patients and $25 for caregivers. Registration fees for indigent or veterans are reduced to 50%. They are only required to present the necessary documentation needed found here.
Upon taking a look at the historical sales data of MMCP, prior to the legalization of medical cannabis in the State of Ohio (September 18, 2016), an increase in the sales of marijuana products can be seen from April 30, 2019, which amounted to $5.2 million in medical marijuana product sales earning the state $36,796 in revenue. As of March 2023, the recent data available showed that on March 26, 2023, the total amount of medical marijuana product sales amounted to $1,247,823,002 earning the state $9,674,250 in revenue.
According to the Ohio State University, there is no special tax imposed on medical cannabis purchases. Qualified patients are, however, subject to a regular state tax of 5.25% and a local sales tax of 0.25-2.25%.
It was on September 2016 when medical cannabis was legalized in the State of Ohio. Before this, the use and possession of cannabis were illegal and punishable by law.
The data below are based on the available records found on the FBI’s crime explorer under the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office
|Arrest for Marijuana Possession||36||87||104||77||28|
|Arrest for Selling of Marijuana||0||3||1||0||0|
|Driving Under the Influence||42||43||38||53||48|
According to the data collected, it is clear that the rate of arrest for marijuana possession increased despite the legalization of medical marijuana in 2016. In fact, the rate peaked in 2018 before slowly declining from 2019 to 2020.