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Does Ohio Plan to Add Additional Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?

Dispensaries have quickly become a common sight in Ohio despite not even being legal until recently. Even for people living outside the big cities, seeing a dispensary is no longer that uncommon. However, that doesn’t mean that building more wouldn’t be beneficial, as not everyone has easy access to transportation or even the time for the trip. Combine this with increasing medical marijuana use overall and you get many people requesting more dispensaries be built, but will they? If you have questions about medical marijuana, are curious if it fits your needs, or want to schedule a Telemedicine appointment with an Ohio medical marijuana doctor, DocMJ is here for you! Take our quick and easy pre-qualification exam now to find out instantly if you pre-qualify for a recommendation. 

What the Law Says

Unsurprisingly, Ohio law is pretty specific as to what needs to go into building a new dispensary. First, the board of pharmacy must issue a license to the dispensary, allowing it access to the “closed loop” payment system to protect patient health information. The board of pharmacy closely monitors the number of licenses that can be given, with the current limit being sixty. Dispensaries must apply for this license and are then scored based on several factors. At the time of writing, the OMMCP lists fifty seven licenses as having been distributed [1]. The law goes on to state that dispensaries must not be within five hundred feet of a school, church, public library, public playground, or public park [2].

Even beyond this, the board of pharmacy must take into account the population surrounding the dispensary, the number of registered patients, and the distance to other dispensaries before awarding a license. Another interesting point, the law also states that dispensary applicants cannot “share any corporate officers or employees with any of the following: A laboratory licensed under this chapter or An applicant for a license to conduct laboratory testing.” [3]. This measure was likely put into place to deter any preferential treatment for dispensaries if they shared a parent company with a laboratory.

Will They Build More?

With the current limit of sixty licenses being almost completely distributed, it may seem unlikely that more dispensaries will be built. But, it seems that Ohio lawmakers are considering building more due to some patients having to drive considerable distances. This is due in large part to an anonymous survey where over forty percent of responders said they drove between ten and thirty miles to their dispensary [4]. While it is impossible to predict which way the lawmakers will go, it shows that the sixty license limit is not set in stone, and, if numbers continue to rise, more dispensaries may be built as a response. 

What Effect Do Dispensaries Have?

A common point of contention surrounding dispensaries is the impact they have on the area around them. Those against marijuana legalization may believe that dispensaries only increase access to marijuana for young adults who otherwise would not have that option. They also may believe that it attracts potentially dangerous people or attention to the neighborhood. 

In fact, the opposite might be true. One study found that, after medical marijuana laws were passed in Washington state, teen use actually decreased [5]. This was also found in past studies, with one hypothesis stating that dispensaries lower the number of illicit drug dealers in the area, and, due to dispensaries’ strict guidelines and rules banning the sale of marijuana products to minors, therefore reduce teen access to marjuana overall. Dispensaries may also lower drug-related crime in an area for a similar reason. 

In Conclusion

Ohio currently has a set maximum number of dispensaries that can operate at one time. This maximum is nearly met, so it is unlikely that many new dispensaries will be built soon. Ohio lawmakers, however, are looking into raising this limit due to demand and population dispersal. Dispensaries may also benefit an area in more ways than strictly economically, and may in fact reduce drug related crime and teenage marijauna use. If you have any questions about medical marijuana, DocMJ can help find a certified physician near you! We offer online bookings through our website and a super fast survey to find out if you pre-qualify for a recommendation!


[1] Dispensary Award Process – Frequently Asked Questions

[2] Lawriter – ORC – 3796.04 [Effective 10/9/2021] Adoption of standards and procedures by board of pharmacy. 

[3] http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3796.10v2 

[4] Ohio medical marijuana officials deciding whether state needs more dispensaries

[5] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2718512?resultClick=1