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Do you plan on starting a cannabis business in Ohio? Our Ohio Cannabis Consulting team can help you win a license to start your business.

Read on for details on the application process and a step-by-step guide on how to win a license.

Alternatively, if you’d like to speak with our marijuana business consultants in Ohio, schedule a free consultation today. 

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Ohio Cannabis Consulting

Market Overview of Medical Cannabis in Ohio

how to open a dispensary in ohio

Before we hop into Ohio’s medical cannabis business licenses, let’s examine the market. Ohio’s medical cannabis market is expected to surpass $350 million in 2021 annual sales and $650 million by 2025, as summarized in the image table below.

(Source: Marijuana Business Daily’s 2021 Factbook)

So, who is operating medical cannabis businesses in Ohio right now? There are currently 58 medical cannabis dispensaries, 48 processors, 34 cultivators, and 7 testing labs operating in Ohio as of Q1 2021, according to MJ Biz Daily’s factbook. The current number of Ohio medical marijuana business licenses is summarized in the table below:

Ohio cannabis consulting firm

(Source: Marijuana Business Daily’s 2021 Factbook)

On that note, here is a map of the current medical marijuana dispensaries in Ohio:

Keep in mind, Ohio will issue 73 additional medical marijuana dispensary licenses by the end of 2021.

Laws and Governing Body of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Industry

Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) oversees the licensing and regulation of the medical cannabis market. Moreover, the laws and rules governing Ohio’s medical marijuana market are found here.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the Department of Commerce, and the State Medical Board of Ohio govern the MMCP.

Here is a link to Ohio’s medical cannabis dispensary rules.

Types of Medical Cannabis Business Licenses in Ohio

Ohio will issue several types of medical cannabis business licenses, including:

  • Cultivation
  • Processing
  • Dispensary
  • Testing Lab

Each license allows you to conduct a specific vertical within the cannabis supply chain. You should read the regulations surrounding the license you are interested in to determine if you qualify and if it’s a good fit for you.

Timetable for Medical Cannabis License Applications

You have an idea of the market potential and types of medical cannabis business licenses available in Ohio. Now, let’s discuss timeframes.

To begin, each license will have its own timeline for accepting applications.

The first upcoming cannabis license application round in Ohio is for Medical Dispensaries. In particular, Ohio has issued a Request for Applications II (RFA II) to issue up to 73 new dispensary licenses. Ohio will publish the dispensary application on September 20th, begin accepting applications on November 4th, and the deadline to submit is November 18th, 2021.

Our Ohio cannabis consulting firm created the timetable below, for your convenience.

Ohio Marijuana business advisors


Our Ohio Marijuana Business Consultants will update this section as other licensing rounds are announced.

Application Process for Ohio Medical Marijuana Dispensary License

Now, let’s discuss the application process.

Our Ohio cannabis consulting team summarize everything you need to know about applying for a medical dispensary license.

First, Ohio will award medical cannabis dispensaries through a lottery system.

Secondly, the state is divided into 31 districts and each district will have its own lottery.

You’ll have to submit an electronic application for and pay an application fee of $5,000 per application.

Fortunately, you can submit an unlimited number of applications. But, each application is site-specific, and you can only submit one application per real estate site.

You’re also required to show at least $250,000 in liquid assets for each application you submit. But keep in mind that dispensary license ownership in Ohio is limited to 5 per owner (discussed further below).

Let’s take a step back. What are the minimum qualifications to submit an application? Well, your application must be “complete” for Ohio to consider it. More specifically, your application is complete if:

  • You paid the $5,000 application fee;
  • You completely fill the application form (summarized below).
For completing the application form , you must submit:
  • Name of the provisional dispensary applicant;
  • The type of business entity (LLC, S-corp, joint-venture, etc.);
  • Register with Ohio Secretary of State;
  • Copy of the articles of incorporation/organization;
  • Physical Address of the proposed medical dispensary;
  • Physical Address of any co-owned or affiliated marijuana entities, including both licensed and prospective entities;
  • Mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address of the provisional dispensary applicant;
  • Proof of ownership or control of the through leasehold in the proposed real estate property for the  medical cannabis dispensary;
  • Survey of the area surrounding the prospective Ohio medical cannabis dispensary (make sure it is 500 ft from the nearest school, church, opioid treatment center, etc.);
  • Evidence of compliance with local ordinances;
  • Tax authorization form;
  • Financial statements demonstrating you have adequate liquid assets, no less than $250,000 for each medical cannabis dispensary application;
  • Account statements dated no earlier than 30 days before application submission;
  • Evidence of unconditionally committed funds for the use of the medical cannabis dispensary;
  • Proposed Organizational Structure;
  • Each owner, officer, and board member of the provisional dispensary applicant must submit to a
    criminal records check;
  • Site-specific plans showing the interior and exterior of the proposed medical marijuana
    dispensary, drawn to scale with square footage clearly illustrated (described further below);
  • A site-specific construction or renovation budget and schedule;
  • A budget for the proposed dispensary identifying the projected costs to staff, equip, and operate
    the medical marijuana dispensary; and
  • Any other documentation required by the board to determine the provisional dispensary
    applicant’s suitability for licensure or to protect public health and safety.

That’s a lot. But we’re not done yet.

We understand how confusing it can be to interpret all that legal-ese. Why not reach out to our Ohio cannabis license consulting team to help you understand the application process and win a license?

cannabis consultant in Ohio

Ownership is super important in Ohio. The state wants to make sure your owners are not criminals, have good moral character, and won’t monopolize the market (hence the license cap per owner). That’s why organizational structure is heavily graded on your application, so make sure to present it well.

Ohio wants and will score your application on the following items related to your Organizational Structure:
  • Organizational Chart showing all owners, officers, and board members of the provisional dispensary applicant, irrespective of an ownership interest;
  • A list of all owners, officers, and board members of the provisional dispensary applicant that contains the following information for each person:
    • The current title of that person;
    • The role the person will serve in for the provisional dispensary applicant, if different from the
      person’s current title;
    • Whether the person has served or is currently serving as an owner, officer or board member for another marijuana entity;
    • Whether the person has previously had a dispensary employee license revoked, disciplined or
      the equivalent thereof, in this state or any other jurisdiction;
    • Whether a marijuana entity with which the owner, officer, or board member is or was previously associated has had a license revoked, disciplined or the equivalent thereof, in this state or any other jurisdiction;
    • The ownership interest that person has in the provisional dispensary applicant; and
    • Whether the person has an ownership interest or financial interest in any other marijuana

Similar to the heavy emphasis Ohio places on organizational structure, your site plan and facility design are just as important in your application. Make sure to work with a professional when it comes to surveys, site plans, architectural designs, and compliant floor plans with security layers.

In short, your site-specific plan must include:
  • The dispensary department;
  • Restricted access areas;
  • Waiting room(s);
  • Patient care areas or other areas designated for patient and caregiver consultation and instruction;
  • An enclosed delivery bay or other equally secured delivery areas as approved by the board where
    medical marijuana deliveries will be made pursuant to a standard operating procedure approved by
    the board;
  • A day-storage area with pass-through window(s);
  • A “mantrap” at any ingress/egress from the dispensary department;
  • A vault in conformance with C.F.R. 1301.72(a)(3) (6/30/2021) and in a location not visible to the
    public; and
  • Parking.

Do you think applying for a medical cannabis dispensary license in Ohio is complex?

Let the professionals handle your dispensary license application, it’ll save you time and stress. Reach out today to learn how our Ohio cannabis consultants can help you win a dispensary license in Ohio.

Ohio Medical Dispensary Districts

You briefly read about it earlier, but let’s focus on the districts now.

Ohio divided the state into 31 districts, and each district has a different number of medical dispensary licenses available. Also, keep in mind that Ohio will host a lottery per district (if there are more applicants than the number of licenses available).

Below is a table summarizing the lottery drawing order and the number of medical cannabis dispensary licenses in Ohio for the upcoming licensing round (RFA II):

District Number of Available Provisional Dispensary Licenses
1 SW-3 2
2 NW-2 1
3 NW-1 1
4 SE-3 9
5 SW-1 8
6 NE-2 7
7 SW-5 6
8 SW-4 4
9 NE-6 4
10 SW-2 3
11 NE-5 3
12 NE-4 3
13 NE-1 3
14 SE-4 2
15 NE-3 2
16 SW-8 1
17 SE-8 1
18 NW-8 1
19 SW-7 1
20 SE-7 1
21 NW-7 1
22 SW-6 1
23 SE-6 1
24 NW-6 1
25 SE-5 1
26 NW-5 1
27 SE-2 1
28 NW-3 1
29 SE-1 1
30 NW-4 1


Yes, of course there are fees, both an application and license fee for starting a cannabis business in Ohio. More specifically, you must pay the non-refundable application fee to submit an application. Afterward, if you’re awarded a license, then you must pay the license fee.

Our Ohio Cannabis Consultants added the table below that summarizes Ohio’s application and licensing fees:

Source: Marijuana Business Daily Factbook 2021

Social Equity Applicants in Ohio

Are you familiar with Social Equity Status? Pay close attention. It could win you a license.

Ohio doesn’t have the typical Social Equity Applicant designation that is seen in adult-use markets, per se. However, Ohio recently updated its rules to indicate that the State will issue at least 15% of the medical dispensary licenses in RFA II to applicants that are at least 51% owned by Ohio residents that are part of an economically disadvantaged group.

As defined by Ohio, Economically Disadvantaged Groups include:

  • Blacks or African Americans;
  • American Indians;
  • Hispanics or Latinos; and
  • Asians.

The laws were updated in an attempt to increase diversity in Ohio’s medical cannabis market. Of the current 58 operating medical dispensaries in Ohio, only 9 are owned by an economically disadvantaged group, as reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Thus, to increase your chances of winning a license, our Ohio cannabis consultants recommend applying as an Economically Disadvantaged Group-owned company. Does this make sense? Feel free to contact our marijuana consulting firm in Ohio to learn more about Social Equity and how to best position yourself to win a license.

cannabis consultant in Ohio
Ownership Limitations

Like you read earlier, Ohio wants to prevent having one company dominate the market. So the State has created license ownership caps per owner.

No owner, as defined in Ohio Adm.Code 3796:6-2-03, may possess more than five dispensary certificates of operation and/or, provisional dispensary licenses at any time, for one.

No owner, as defined in Ohio Adm.Code 3796:6-2-03, maybe issued more than sixty-six percent (66%) of the total number of dispensary certificates of operation and/or provisional dispensary licenses, for another.

Also, applicants shall only be awarded the total number of provisional dispensary licenses for which they have adequate liquid assets ($250,000 per dispensary), as demonstrated in the applications submitted to the Board. See Ohio Adm.Code 3796:6-2-04(C)(1).

Selling or Transferring Ownership in Ohio Medical Cannabis Business Licenses

So, can you sell your Ohio Medical Cannabis Business License? Yes, you can sell your license.

For Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, you must operate for twelve months before you sell your dispensary license in Ohio. However, you must apply to the State to sell or transfer ownership of your license. The new owners must qualify for the license. Particularly, they will undergo criminal background checks and must not exceed the license ownership limitations (5 dispensary max per owner).

Step-by-Step Guide on How to win an Ohio Medical Dispensary License

While the State will award Ohio Medical Dispensary Licenses through a lottery, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of winning a license. You can begin taking action now to best position yourself, in fact.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to win an Ohio medical dispensary license that our cannabis consultants put together.

Step 1: Read the Rules and Application

To begin, you’ll want to read the rules, laws, and application instructions to ensure that you qualify and understand the process. For instance, double-check if you have any disqualifying criminal convictions.

You’ll also want to ensure that you have adequate liquid assets ($250,000) for each application you intend to submit and none of your officers will exceed the license ownership limitations (discussed above).

Once you’ve determined that you qualify to apply for a medical cannabis dispensary license in Ohio, the next step is to form your business entity.

Step 2: Form Your Business Entity

Our Ohio cannabis license consulting team recommends forming your business entity as soon as possible since the process can sometimes take 2 – 3 weeks.  There are a few options for the type of business organization you can form, including:

  • individual,
  • corporation,
  • partnership,
  • limited-liability company,
  • association or cooperative,
  • joint venture or
  • any other business organization.

We most commonly find applicants forming a corporation or LLC.

Step 3: Identify the districts you intend to apply in

As mentioned earlier, Ohio is divided into 31 districts. Moreover, each district has a unique number of dispensary licenses available.

Keep in mind that some districts will have more applicants than others, and thus, competition is higher.

Our Ohio cannabis consultants suggest reviewing the number of applicants per district in the first round (RFA I). You’ll also want to check the current number of dispensaries in each district. For your convenience, we added the map below showing this information.

Choosing the right district is half the battle. You can significantly increase your odds of winning a license by developing a submission strategy early on.

If you’d like help with your Ohio Medical Cannabis dispensary license application, talk with one of our cannabis license consultants. You’ll save time and money while becoming a dispensary owner.

cannabis consultant in Ohio

Step 4: Secure Real Estate

Once you’ve chosen the district, the next step is to identify the real estate in that district. You’ll want to ensure the real estate is in compliance with all of the State’s rules and regulations.

For instance, does your piece of the property meet the distance requirements? You’ll need to be at least 500 ft away from the nearest school, church, opioid treatment center, etc.

We recommend entering into a contingent lease or an option to buy with the landowner if you do not own the land. Part of the application requires that you show proof of ownership or control of the property that you intend to operate your dispensary at.

Step 5: Determine the number of applications you want to submit

Step 5 goes hand in hand with Step 4. Since each application is site-specific, you’ll need a piece of real estate per application you intend to submit.

Remember, Ohio will award licenses through a drawing process. For this reason, you will want to submit as many applications to increase the probability of winning a license.

However, keep in mind, you must show adequate liquid assets per application (i.e. per site). Owners are limited to possessing 5 medical dispensaries, so if you want to submit more than 5 applications, you’ll have to show at least $1,250,000 (=5 applications x $250,000).

Step 6: Conduct Survey and Design Floor Plan

Once you’ve decided on the number of applications and where you’ll apply, the next step is to obtain the site survey and floor plans. Again, this is a time-consuming step so it is best to get started on this as soon as possible.

Have a professional surveyor and architect conduct this for you. You’ll want to make sure the architect has experience designing cannabis dispensary floor plans because the floor plan must be compliant with Ohio laws and regulations. Don’t forget to add the security layers on your floor plan!

Step 7: Form a Team

At this point, you have real estate locked up and your site plan, survey, and floor plan are underway. You’ll now want to form a team to list on the application. The team is essentially the proposed team that will operate the medical cannabis dispensary. Thus, you’ll want a team with business experience and preferably cannabis industry experience.

More importantly, you’ll want to make sure your team members have no criminal background and won’t exceed any ownership limitations. This is to prevent you from getting disqualified.

Beyond that, a pro tip is to build a team that would result in 51% ownership by Economically Disadvantaged Groups (discussed above). Why is this important? Because Ohio is going to issue AT LEAST 15% of the medical dispensary license to applicants that are majority-owned by Economically Disadvantaged Groups.

Step 8: Submit your application

After you’ve completed Steps 1 – 7, you’ve completed the bulk of the heavy lifting. The remaining items include gathering the last requirements, such as account statements, fingerprints from officers, budget projections, organizational charts, etc.

Our Ohio cannabis consultants summarized the application requirements above. If you remember, it was a pretty exhaustive list and many moving parts and technical documentation. If you’re not familiar with putting together cannabis license applications, this step can get overwhelming.

Missing a single item can immediately disqualify you. Imagine that. You have incurred massive costs during the application process, but you get disqualified because you overlooked a step. Why risk it? Work with a consultant who is a professional at crafting winning license applications. Winning a license and becoming a cannabis business owner far outweigh the costs of a consultant.

Reach out to our Ohio cannabis consultants to learn how we can save you time and headaches while you become a dispensary owner. You’ll work with a firm with one of the highest success rate in the industry, 90.12%.

cannabis consultant in Ohio

Resources for Ohio Medical Cannabis License Applicants

Our Ohio Cannabis Consultants put together the following links of useful resources for medical cannabis business license applicants:

Additionally, here are links to Ohio’s page for each cannabis license type that contains information and resources for each license:

Conclusions | Ohio Cannabis Consultant and Consulting Services

Reach out to learn about the application services that our cannabis consultants in Ohio provide. Our cannabis consulting firm has one of the highest success rates in the industry (90.12% success rate) and our application writers are eager to help you with your dispensary license submission in Ohio.


A qualified industry consultant like Quantum 9 will guide you through the application process, saving you time and stress. Allow us to manage you application from start to finish, so you don’t have to worry. Does that sound so bad?

Contact our cannabis consulting firm in Ohio for information about the dispensary submission.

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Julio Soriagalvarro

Author Julio Soriagalvarro

As the Managing Director at Quantum 9, I help entrepreneurs and investors win licenses and start cannabis businesses in medical and adult-use markets. I manage teams that continuously produce cannabis business license applications that outcompete the best attorneys and largest multi-state operators in the world. We’ve helped clients become cannabis business owners in 27 US States and 6 countries.

More posts by Julio Soriagalvarro

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