House Bill 523

House Bill 523, effective on September 8, 2016, legalized medical marijuana in Ohio. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) will allow people with qualifying medical conditions, upon the recommendation of an Ohio-licensed and certified physician, to purchase and use medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries. The program must be operational no later than September 8, 2018. As one of three agencies responsible for developing, implementing, and overseeing the MMCP, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy is responsible for overseeing, as well as licensing medical marijuana retail dispensaries. They are also in charge of registering new medical marijuana patients and caregivers and the approval of new forms of medical marijuana.

Only a dispensary that has obtained a certificate of operation from the State Board of Pharmacy may sell or dispense medical marijuana to qualifying patients and designated caregivers who are registered with the board. To be considered complete, items submitted in response to a request for applications issued shall include the $5,000 application fee, the application, which shall include: The name of the proposed dispensary, the type of business organization of the applicant, such as individual, corporation, partnership, limited-liability company, association or cooperative, joint venture or any other business organization. It must also include confirmation that the applicant has registered with the Ohio secretary of state as the applicable type of business, a copy of the applicant’s articles of incorporation, articles of organization or partnership or joint venture document of the applicant. The physical address where the proposed dispensary will be located and the physical address of any co-owned or otherwise affiliated medical marijuana entities, including both licensed and prospective entities. It must also include an electronic mail address, current mailing address and phone number of the applicant. The proposed hours of operation during which the prospective dispensary plans to be available to dispense medical marijuana to patients who hold valid registry identification cards or to the designated caregivers of such patients needs to be provided. Proof establishing that the applicant owns or controls through a leasehold interest in all real property where marijuana will be dispensed, or a signed, notarized statement from the owner of such real property that the owner will grant a leasehold interest to the applicant if a provisional license is issued, a location area map of the area surrounding the prospective dispensary that establishes the facility is at least five hundred feet from the boundaries of a prohibited facility, or a community addiction services provider. Evidence must be provided that the applicant is in compliance with any local ordinances, rules, or regulations adopted by the locality in which the applicant’s property is located, which are in effect at the time of the application. The applicant must provide documentation sufficient to establish that the applicant is in compliance with the applicable tax laws of this state and any jurisdiction where the applicant has operated and conducted business within the last three years. A financial plan which includes: Financial statements showing the resources of the applicant; If the applicant is relying on money from an owner, officer or board member, evidence that the person has unconditionally committed such money to the use of the applicant in the event that a dispensary license is awarded to the applicant; Documentation from an institution in this state, or any other state in the United States or the District of Columbia, which demonstrates: That the applicant has adequate liquid assets to cover all expenses and costs of the first year of operation for all licenses the applicant is willing to accept, but no less than two hundred fifty thousand dollars, as indicated under the dispensary’s current business plan. Such liquid assets shall be unencumbered and capable of being converted within thirty days after a request to liquidate such assets; and the source of those assets.

For each owner, officer and board member of the proposed dispensary: an attestation signed, notarized, and dated by the owner, officer or board member that he or she has not been convicted of a disqualifying offense and that the information provided to support the application to operate a dispensary is true and correct; If an individual has been convicted of any offense in any record of arrest or charges pending or have a conviction of a felony or misdemeanor other than a traffic violation in any jurisdiction, then the applicant must submit to a criminal records check; a narrative description, not to exceed one thousand five hundred words, demonstrating: Any previous experience at operating other businesses or nonprofit organizations; and any demonstrated knowledge or expertise with respect to the medical use of marijuana to treat qualifying conditions.

Applicant must also provide documentation describing the adequacy of the size of the proposed dispensary to serve the needs of patients and caregivers, including, without limitation, building and construction plans with supporting details. Such plans shall illustrate, at a minimum, the size and location of the following within the prospective dispensary location: The dispensary department; restricted access areas; Waiting room; and Patient care areas or other areas designated for patient and caregiver consultation and instruction.

            The plan of the proposed dispensary for the care, quality, and safekeeping of medical marijuana from delivery to sale, including, without limitation, procedures to ensure adequate security measures, building security and product security. Such plan shall include the dispensary’s intended plan to detect and deter theft, diversion, or loss. A plan for the business which includes, without limitation, a description of the inventory control plans for the proposed dispensary should also be included. There needs to be solid evidence that the applicant has a plan to staff, educate, and manage the proposed dispensary on a daily basis, which must include, without limitation: A detailed budget for the proposed dispensary, including pre-opening, construction and first year operating expenses; an operations manual; Intended wage rates and benefits packages for all employees; an education plan which must include, without limitation, providing training materials to the staff of the proposed dispensary; and efforts to minimize the environmental impact of the dispensary.

A proposal demonstrating how the prospective dispensary will meet the needs of patients and caregivers, a detailed description of any other services or products to be offered by the proposed dispensary, documents related to any program to assist veterans or the indigent in obtaining medical marijuana that the proposed dispensary intends to offer; and such other documents and information reasonably required by the board to determine the applicant’s suitability for licensure or to protect public health and safety all must be submitted.

If any information contained in the application or accompanying documents changes after being submitted to the state board of pharmacy, the applicant shall immediately notify the state board of pharmacy in writing and provide corrected information within fourteen days of the change and no application to operate a medical marijuana dispensary may be withdrawn without the approval of the state board of pharmacy. If the withdrawal of an application is granted due to a change in federal, state, or local rules or regulations, the applicant for whom the withdrawal was granted shall be refunded any remitted application fees.