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Will recreational pot go on sale soon in Ohio?

green leaves in close up photography

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Recreational pot sales are nearing reality in Ohio.

The state Division of Cannabis Control began accepting applications Friday for new dual licenses that will allow existing medical marijuana dispensaries to also sell nonmedical cannabis.

Friday was the deadline for making applications available, a provision in a 2023 initiated statute approved overwhelmingly by Ohio voters. Under the measure, Ohioans over 21 were immediately able to legally grow and possess adult-use marijuana at home, but there has yet to be anywhere in the state to legally buy it.

State regulators won’t say how long license approvals could take, but those who have helped put together rules for the program believe the first sales could come by mid-June. That’s because obtaining a dual license will allow Ohio’s network of about 132 medical pot dispensaries to begin selling those same products simply for fun.

An industry representative told legislators last month that many stores are busy preparing for the conversion.

“We’re very excited about Ohio. Ten million person population here in the state, so it’s a big, big opportunity for us,” Trip McDermott, chief operating officer of Verano, said at the company’s cultivation facility in Canton.

The new law allows adults 21 and over to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and to grow up to six plants per individual or 12 plants per household at home. It gave the state nine months to set up a system for legal marijuana purchases, subject to a 10% tax. Sales revenue is to be divided between administrative costs, addiction treatment, municipalities with dispensaries, and paying for social equity and jobs programs supporting the cannabis industry itself.

The law remains subject to change by state lawmakers. A Senate bill introduced last month proposes banning smoking or vaping marijuana products in public and would require home growers to file affidavits with the Division of Cannabis Control. Legislators have also discussed setting other limits on the state’s new recreational marijuana program, including adding protections against advertising aimed at children.

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