Ohio Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Are Preparing for Complete Legalisation While Expanding Their Operations!

Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries build businesses while preparing for full legalization

In 2015, when Andrew Rayburn’s attorney buddy was in hospice after a long battle with multiple myeloma, he became a true believer in medical cannabis. Their mutual friend’s cancer had wiped out their appetite and kept them up at night. Until he took marijuana for the first time, he had never understood the appeal.

“He contacted me at the workplace and said he slept, woke up with an appetite, and wasn’t feeling bad for the first time in two years,” Rayburn said. I was moved to tears by the story. Since then, I’ve put in a lot of effort into the company.

Founder and CEO of Amplify Andrew Rayburn
According to Amplify’s owner, Andrew Rayburn, “there is enough capability here to launch adult use” based on forecasts from the state of Ohio.

Rayburn established Buckeye Relief in Eastlake, Ohio, as the state’s first commercial marijuana grower two years later. After the facility’s success, the new cannabis CEO opened Amplify, a medical marijuana dispensary on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights, in March 2022.

Rayburn is prepared for the legalisation of recreational marijuana in Ohio after spending years preparing and licencing two cannabis enterprises, which might result in a 55,000-square-foot extension of his Eastlake production and processing area.

Verde Compliance Partners, a Cleveland company that helps growers and processors register their businesses, noted that Rayburn and his fellow marijuana entrepreneurs should start planning for the eventuality now. This next phase of legalisation may not be realised until the next election cycle at the earliest.

Bernstein employs a team of seasoned experts who collectively have decades of expertise navigating the confusing regulations governing marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco.

The company’s creator is a former general counsel for the beer and wine industry; he now offers counselling, pre-qualification analysis, and continuous support to businesses preparing to enter the legal recreational marketplace.

Legislation has been presented in Congress by leaders on both sides of the aisle to get the country ready for legalisation. This includes the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult Use Regulated Environment (PREPARE) Act, which takes cues from existing state laws for alcohol.

This framework would incorporate social justice requirements for disenfranchised areas disproportionately damaged by previous cannabis prohibition, and in the end, each state would likely be permitted to run their own programmes.

Bernstein warned business owners to start making preparations immediately for the potentially lengthy and difficult process of obtaining FDA permission for selling marijuana as a medication.

Bernstein predicted that after legalisation, “you’ll have 20,000 state licence owners,” and that many more would require federal permits in the next year or two. You definitely don’t want to get in the middle of it. Be as ready and prepared as possible.

Aware of The Obstacles

There are currently 130 medical marijuana shops open for business in the state of Ohio. Initially, the number of licenced marijuana dispensaries in Ohio was capped at 57 by the state’s Board of Pharmacy. When authorization for an additional 73 dispensaries became available in April 2021, Rayburn’s Amplify business in Cleveland Heights was one of them.

Amplify is popular among people who have been diagnosed with a wide range of illnesses, from cancer to chronic pain to fibromyalgia to Parkinson’s disease. The remodelled 6,000-square-foot store offers the standard selection of cannabis products, including flowers, oils, edibles, distillates, and vape pens. In December of 2022, profits were four times what they had been in the first month of business the previous spring.

Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries build businesses while preparing for full legalization

However, in the time until countrywide legislative regulation is enacted, Amplify is encountering challenges. For example, very few financial institutions provide funding for this sector. According to Harry Bernstein of Verde Compliance Partners, in 2023 lawmakers will likely submit legislation to remove restrictions for lending money to legal cannabis businesses.

Until recreational marijuana use is legalised, Rayburn is building a second Amplify site in Columbus, Ohio this coming February. Rayburn does not worry that the oversaturation of dispensaries in the Buckeye State will have a negative impact on the market once recreational use is legalised.

According to the Ohio forecasts that I’ve reviewed, “there is plenty of capability here to launch adult use,” as stated by Rayburn. Some of these firms will need to undertake facility expansions like ours if the market is to grow.

The Road Ahead

Supporters of cannabis are keeping an eye on the national and local regulatory landscapes as 2023 begins. An initiative for recreational legalisation in Ohio has been submitted by the citizen-led Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, and lawmakers there have until May 3 to vote on the measure.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose revived the referendum on January 3 after it had been removed from the November 2022 ballot owing to a technicality with the timing of signatures. Ohio voters may be asked their opinion on the matter this November if the Republican Statehouse supermajority does not pass the legislation over the next four months.

Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries build businesses while preparing for full legalization

Bernstein of Verde opined that voters would be responsible for legalising cannabis in the state, as the coalition’s proposal stands little chance of succeeding. However, the attorney in Cleveland is sceptical that the community is ready to legalise marijuana for adults.

A constitutional amendment to legalise marijuana was overwhelmingly defeated by voters in 2015. however, Bernstein thinks Ohioans were more worried about monopoly control by investor groups than the passing of weaker regulations in that instance.

In his opinion, the best way for Ohio to prosper is through a well-crafted legalisation plan that limits who and where cannabis can be sold.

In his opinion, “nobody wants to turn on all the faucets and sell it everywhere,” Bernstein added. On the other hand, I believe you can get things done in Ohio. If the federal government acts before Ohio does, the Buckeye State will be left out in the cold.

Medical marijuana dispensaries on a local level have no choice except to wait it out and get ready. Ariane Kirkpatrick of Cleveland runs dispensaries in the southern Ohio cities of Columbus, Athens, and Beavercreek.

Kirkpatrick is also pleased to be the first Black female majority owner of a cannabis business in the state, meaning she oversees every aspect of the operation from plant cultivation to retail sales.

Half of Kirkpatrick’s 100 employees are either women or people of colour, making her business approach unique. She also takes solace from the fact that, in October 2022, the Biden administration declared it will pardon anybody convicted of federal marijuana possession charges for minor offences.

If and when cannabis for adult use is regulated, Kirkpatrick anticipates it will be delegated to the discretion of the states, much like alcohol is today.

Kirkpatrick remarked, “Just because something becomes legal, you don’t remove away all rules.” Regulation isn’t always bad, especially when it ensures the product’s integrity. “That’s the point we’re making,” they said.

To prepare for recreational legalisation, education is key, said Kirkpatrick. Team members who are already researching marijuana’s medical benefits anticipate a day when the herb can be legally consumed as an alternative to harmful narcotics.

Existing state-licensed operators, such as Ohio’s Harvest of Ohio, would be grandfathered into any law, guaranteeing patient access and encouraging further growth of the legal market. Kirkpatrick does not fear a world overrun by dispensaries, but she also does not want a store on every block.

After regulations are in place, “let’s look at examples of things we don’t want in our region, like when you see check cashing places or liquor stores everywhere,” Kirkpatrick suggested. If there is too much of something, it becomes problematic.

Bernstein observed that the majority of Ohio’s medical marijuana patients live within a half-hour drive of a dispensary. Bernstein hopes this fine line will keep the industry and consumers safe while also discouraging “bad actors.”

To reduce the underground market, Bernstein suggests increasing the available licences and introducing more appropriate taxes. The number of clinics where patients can legally purchase medical marijuana for in-home use is expected to increase substantially within the next two to five years.

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