Ohio’s medical marijuana bill was passed in May of this year and will go into effect on September 8, 2016. However, the system won’t be operational until September 2018. Rules and regulations for cultivators won’t be issued until May 6, 2017. Rules for everyone else won’t be issued until October 2017. Despite the slow road to medical marijuana sales in Ohio, businesses are getting ready to cash in on cannabis in the state.
The Ohio medical marijuana industry will structured to include cultivators, processors, testing facilities, and retail dispensaries. No one knows how many licenses will be granted to each type of business, but that hasn’t stopped close to 100 new companies and business names that include the word “marijuana” or “cannabis” to be registered in Ohio during the past year. In fact, dozens of those companies have been registered since the bill passed in May.
In addition, multiple marijuana associations have registered names in Ohio and the number of lobbyists representing marijuana-related businesses has increased as well.
Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Industry
There are five key ways that businesses are eyeing the Ohio medical marijuana market:
- New Ohio businesses that want to join the marijuana industry
- Existing Ohio businesses that want to expand into the marijuana industry
- Existing Ohio businesses that serve the marijuana industry in other states and want to serve Ohio as well
- Companies operating in states where medical marijuana is already legal that want to expand to Ohio
- Companies that want to service Ohio’s marijuana-related business owners through conferences, workshops, and other educational experiences
Companies don’t have to look far to see the potential of medical marijuana in Ohio. As Cleveland.com reports, Johnstown, Ohio’s Apeks Supercritical, which manufactures carbon dioxide extraction systems that are used to make cannabis oils, was an Edison Award winner in 2016 and a national finalist (and regional winner) of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year award. Apeks Supercritical was also named one of the fastest growing companies in the country by Inc. Magazine and one of the most brilliant companies by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2015. Ohio companies can see success in the marijuana industry right in their own backyards.
The Future of the Marijuana Industry in Ohio
It’s not unusual for businesses to flock to the marijuana industry when a state legalizes medical marijuana. In Maryland, licenses have yet to be granted, but already, a long list of diverse investors – from former police officers to politicians – are trying to get into the market by investing in companies vying for those licenses. Across the country, dozens of venture capital firms and thousands of angel investors are actively looking for marijuana businesses to invest in.
However, the future is still unknown. While Ohio plans to release rules and regulations in 2017 with its medical marijuana program becoming operational in 2018, it’s not unusual for states to experience implementation to be delays. This is happening in Maryland right now where the state’s system is taking a very long time to get up and running. There is no guarantee that Ohio will meet its schedule.
Are all of these companies that are trying to stake a claim in the Ohio medical marijuana market acting prematurely? The answer to that question is probably not because competition for what will likely be a limited number of licenses will be very tough. The question is how much work each of these companies will have to re-do once the rules and regulations for the industry are released.
Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. She has been working with clients in the cannabis industry since 2015. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.