COLUMBUS, Ohio — Applicants to operate the first Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries will have to wait a little longer to find out whether they’ll be awarded licenses by the state.
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy canceled a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday and plans to announce dispensary license winners at a its regular monthly meeting June 4-6. Of the 376 applications submitted in November, the board can award licenses to as many as 57 sites across the state.
Board spokesman Cameron McNamee said all applications have been scored but the board is still waiting on background check information and verifying whether applicants have met all of the necessary objective criteria. One of those criteria is whether a proposed site is at least 500 feet from a school, church or other prohibited site.
“We wanted to make sure everyone meets those minimum qualifications,” McNamee said.
Several applicants have told cleveland.com that they have spent thousands of dollars each month to hold properties in anticipation of receiving a license. Postponing Wednesday’s meeting pushes would-be dispensary owners into a new month. McNamee said the board understands that frustration but also has an obligation to meet all laws and rules so there aren’t issues after winners are announced.
The Ohio Department of Commerce did not verify whether medical marijuana growers met the mandatory qualifications before announcing license winners, cleveland.com reported earlier this year. A cleveland.com review of redacted cultivator applications and county property records found at least four sites did not meet the 500-foot buffer rule at the time the applications were turned in.
The Department of Commerce said it checked whether applicants signed off on the requirements and will verify adherence to the 500-foot rule and all other requirements before issuing certificates of operation to the 25 companies issued grow licenses.
Ohio’s medical marijuana