Ohio’s medical cannabis program was created in 2016 by HB 523, which allows eligible in-state patients to obtain legal protections to possess and use medical cannabis. Under the law patients who meet certain requirements are eligible for an affirmative defense for possession and use of medical cannabis. Ohio promulgated governing the licensing and oversight of cultivators, manufacturers, testing laboratories and retailers in 2017, though the program was not operational until 2019 when the first sales of medical cannabis occurred, which is the same year the state licensed its first testing lab to ensure patient safety.  Under the law, Ohio patients can expect to be served by a population of 56 medical cannabis dispensaries, 19 of which were licensed and operating in 2019.  

In 2020, the state made medical cannabis businesses essential during the COVID pandemic and organized other access features to assist patients such as permitting curbside pickup and allowing patients to reenroll in the state’s program via telehealth appointments.