Southwest Ohio allowed to have 15 medical marijuana stores

Southwest Ohio would get 15 medical marijuana dispensaries, including four in Montgomery County, according to draft rules released Wednesday by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy

Regulators propose carving the state into four districts and placing medical marijuana dispensary shops based on the number of patients in each area, population, access to major roadways and other factors. The state will accept comment on the proposal until Aug. 11.

The northeast area of the state, which includes Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown would be awarded the most — 18 dispensaries.

The Medical Marijuana Control Program also released instructions for public colleges and universities that want to be licensed to conduct lab testing of medical pot products. There is no limit on lab licenses that can be issued.

Related: Ohio to buy $6 million seed to sale marijuana tracking system

Meanwhile, a national trade group for the marijuana industry is setting up an Ohio chapter as the state stands up its new medical marijuana industry. Private lab facilities will be allowed to apply for licenses after a one-year waiting period.

The National Cannabis Industry Association will hold a quarterly cannabis caucus meeting in Columbus on Thursday evening to deliver an update on federal, state and local policy issues, said NCIA Ohio Director Thomas Rosenberger. The event, free for members or $50 for non-members, is targeted for people and businesses established or looking to get into the legal marijuana industry, he said.

The state is required by law to have its medical marijuana program operational by September. Rosenberger said it appears Ohio regulators are on track to hit the deadline.

At the end of June, Ohio accepted 185 applications from groups vying to be awarded the 24 cultivator licenses.

Related: Olympian, whiskey heir among those trying to grow medical pot in Ohio

Ohio passed its medical marijuana law last year. It will allow patients with 21 medical conditions, including cancer and chronic pain, to get a doctor’s note recommending marijuana as part of their treatment.

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