Ohio regulators received 370 applications to sell medical marijuana but will initially award only 57 licenses at most.
Cuyahoga and Franklin counties could have up to five dispensaries apiece, while many suburban and rural counties might not have any. And because no applications were filed in six western counties, the state won’t redistribute those counties’ three licenses to other parts of the state.
The most applications were collected for the northeast corner of the state, where 150 applied for up to 18 licenses. In the southeast region, which includes Franklin County, 105 applications were submitted for 17 available licenses.
Of the 145 applicants, 80 applied for two or more licenses. Dispensary owners can only hold five licenses at most.
No one applied for a dispensary in Shelby, Logan, Miami, Paulding, Van Wert and Mercer counties. Those counties were grouped in two dispensary districts, with the southwest district allocated two licenses and the northwest given one.
Board spokesman Cameron McNamee said the board will decide at a later date, likely after sales begin next year, whether to accept additional applications for those areas and whether to add more dispensaries to meet patient demand.
The board decided to initially award up to 60 licenses based on estimates that between .04 and .44 percent of Ohio’s population — or between 4,600 and 51,000 patients — will sign up for the program in the first two years. Industry projections estimate between 1 and 2 percent of the population will qualify.
GTI Ohio, which is backed by investor and developer Bobby George, applied for 12 different locations, according to information released Monday by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
Applicants had to pay a $5,000 nonrefundable application fee and submit business, security and financial plans as well as undergo a background check by Friday.
The pharmacy board tapped Atlanta company North Highland Co. to help the agency review applications. North Highland helped design and oversee the application process for medical marijuana programs in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, according to the company’s bid to work with Ohio’s program.
The board expected at least 200 applications. McNamee said there’s no estimated date for when licenses will be awarded.
Ohioans with one of 21 medical conditions can legally buy and use medical marijuana if recommended to them by a physician. The state has until September 2018 to get the program up and running.
The Ohio Department of Commerce announced half of the cultivation license winners earlier this month and is expected to announce the larger growers before the end of November.