The State of Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016. Although the move was a victory for social advocates, it left the complicated tasks of administration and licensing to state bureaucracies. Nearly two years later, the state is stuck on its licensing procedures as the September deadline approaches for operations. Could hopes for medical marijuana go up in smoke before operations even begin?

Delays in licensing could affect operations

According to, the state granted 24 provisional licenses in November to marijuana business entrepreneurs the areas of cultivation, processing and testing. Each of these businesses has 90 days to obtain a final certificate of operation, but an audit of the criteria considered for licensing could delay the start of operations. Because marijuana plants take four months to grow and harvest, any delay to the beginning of operations through May could postpone the state’s mandate for operation in September.

Lifting the smokescreen of licensing

Although the state’s medical marijuana program is brand new, it is already running into controversy because of the alleged lack of transparency in the licensing process. According to, six people have sued after being denied licenses. Additionally, two businesses that earned a provisional license are alleged to have inappropriate ties to the state’s licensing agency.

Despite legislative opposition, the state plans to move forward with licensing to meet the September deadline, but what does this mean for business owners involved in Ohio’s budding marijuana industry?

New laws mean uncertainty

There are bound to be growing pains in any new area of business and the law, and the birth of medical marijuana is proving no different for Ohio as the interests of public health and government transparency balance out market supply and demand.

Business owners may quickly find themselves in uncharted territory when managing a medical marijuana business because the law often lags behind the market’s activity. What isn’t outlined in legislation is likely to become the subject of court battles as the law takes shape in the state.