Who will sell medical pot? 50 from area apply for licenses

Medical marijuana has been legal in the state of Washington since 1998. In Seattle, medical pot dispensaries are common. JIM OTTE/STAFF PHOTO

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Medical marijuana has been legal in the state of Washington since 1998. In Seattle, medical pot dispensaries are common. JIM OTTE/STAFF PHOTO

In the latest step to establish a legal medical marijuana industry in Ohio, the state received 370 applications for dispensary licenses, including 50 from six area counties: 19 in Montgomery, 11 in Butler, 10 in Clark, five in Warren, four in Greene, one in Champaign.

The next step will be to winnow down the list to the 60 that will be licensed to sell medical marijuana when the state’s program gets off the ground next year. Fifteen licenses will be awarded in southwest Ohio.

"The large number of dispensary applications demonstrates the high level of competition between potential dispensary operators and will ultimately lead to better outcomes for Ohio patients," said Thomas Rosenberger, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association of Ohio.

Related: Ohio announces first set of licenses for marijuana growers

An Ohio Board of Pharmacy spokesman said dispensary licenses will be awarded before the September 2018 deadline for the medical marijuana program to be fully operational.

Earlier this month, the state announced 11 awards of Level 2 cultivator licenses, which allow businesses to have up to 3,000-square-feet of growing space. Awards for up to a dozen Level 1 cultivator licenses are expected to be announced this month.

Dispensaries will be distributed across the state into four districts. Montgomery County is expected to get three medical marijuana stores. The state released applicants' business names and their counties but not the addresses of where the stores may be located.

Related: Medical marijuana farm planned for Wilmington

Still, the list includes some known players in Ohio’s medical marijuana fields: James Gould, who was a driving force behind the failed 2015 ballot issue to legalize pot; Andy Joseph, owner of a Licking County manufacturer of plant oil extraction machinery; and Chris Schrimpf, former spokesman for John Kasich’s presidential campaign.

In June 2016, Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law that authorizes use by patients with 21 conditions, including cancer or chronic pain, in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing. Patients and their caregivers will be allowed to possess up to a 90 day supply. Smoking the drug or home growing it is barred.

Related: Ohio businesses set to cash in on marijuana

The Medical Marijuana Control Program is jointly managed by the commerce department, pharmacy board and state medical board. Regulators have been busy writing rules and guidelines for growers, processors, testing labs, dispensaries, patients and caregivers as well as reviewing and scoring applications for licenses.

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