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Medical marijuana dispensary lottery shows where new dispensaries could pop up

Posted at 1:08 PM, Feb 02, 2022

CLEVELAND — One way or another, the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Ohio is supposed to more than double in 2022.

Monday, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program and Board of Pharmacy posted the list of dispensary license lottery applications in the order that they were picked on January 27. It’s part of the program’s second round of dispensary license allocations.

See the full ranked list here.

The 57 dispensaries that are currently open in Ohio will eventually be joined by 73 more, bringing the state's total to 130.

News 5 Cleveland recently reported on the real estate and application frenzy the process was creating despite the limited number of licenses available across the state, and a five-dispensary cap for any individual company.

Homegrown winners

“It kind of set in overnight,” said Klutch Cannabis Co-Founder and CEO Adam Thomarios. “We’re going to be starting up a new business, if you will. We could have 80 employees within a year’s time.”

Thomarios’ company spent at least $365,000 to submit 73 applications, before factoring a team of lawyers and other experts needed to pull the applications together.

Thomarios shows the map in his office where Klutch's medical marijuana dispensary application are marked with red pieces of paper showing where and how many applications they've submitted. Klutch predicts it will get either three or four dispensaries once the state's vetting process is finished.

It was an expensive lottery ticket that didn’t guarantee any return on investment. For the gamble, Klutch appears to be in position to get at least three dispensaries and potentially a fourth if applications picked before them are disqualified.

“Quite honestly, I’m shocked that we were able to be successful, at least from what it appears, [with] three sites in Northeastern Ohio,” said Thomarios.

Klutch Cannabis is in position to potentially get dispensary licenses in Lorain, Euclid, Cleveland Heights, Canton, and Caldwell based on how many licenses will be awarded in each district, and where the company’s applications were picked.

This location on Lakewood Heights Boulevard in Cleveland is slated to become a medical marijuana dispensary after an application was selected by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The licenses won't be finalized until a vetting process can be completed.

It means that the Akron cultivator and processor will be able to grow, create, and sell medical marijuana to Ohioans under the brand “Citizen by Klutch.”

“We have more direct contact in order to promote our brands, talk to them and tell them which products might be best for their conditions,” said Thomarios.

Where the program sits today

The 57 operating dispensary licenses were awarded when the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program launched in 2018. Those licenses were awarded through a competitive scoring process, where each application was scored and the highest scores received licenses. Since then, patients often complained that the state’s highly regulated program didn’t give them the choice in products they wanted and that dispensaries were too far away.

In September, the department of commerce, which oversees medical marijuana cultivation, processing, and testing, and the board of pharmacy, which oversees dispensaries, announced existing cultivators would be allowed to apply to expand their space and that 73 more dispensary licenses would be awarded in a lottery system. Instead of using competitive scoring, the lottery puts all qualified applications into a pool and randomly selects the winning bids.

New dispensary timeline 

Licenses aren’t locked in yet.

Now that the applications have been ranked, the state is confirming that the winning applications meet all the state requirements to get a provisional dispensary license, which would allow the companies to start building their facilities.

This building in Flats South could become a medical marijuana dispensary if the application that claims this address gets through Ohio's vetting process.

If applications don’t measure up, companies picked later in the lottery will get their chance.

The Board of Pharmacy tells News 5 there is no firm date for when the provisional licenses will be announced, but it hopes for an announcement in the spring at a Board of Pharmacy meeting.

Legalization looms

Ohio has three potential paths to legal marijuana for adults working through the statehouse right now.

Marijuana Legalization
A cannabis plant that is close to harvest grows in a grow room at the Greenleaf Medical Cannabis facility in Richmond, Va., Thursday, June 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

If any of those are successful and cannabis is available to the general public, experts say the existing dispensary operations would be able to quickly transition to capitalize on the expanded market.

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