Chart: Good – not great – first year of medical cannabis sales in Ohio

Ohio’s medical marijuana industry pulled in nearly $60 million in its first year of sales, with increased access to dispensaries and falling prices making up for the market’s sluggish start.

Roughly 50% of the state’s total medical marijuana sales came in the last quarter of 2019, but it wasn’t enough to drive sales?to the heights of other, similar medical cannabis markets that launched in the past couple of years such as Maryland and Pennsylvania.

While access to medical marijuana in Ohio was extremely limited at launch – the program kicked off with just five dispensaries that sold only dried cannabis flower – dispensaries continued to open at a steady clip over the course of the year.

Currently, 46 dispensaries are operating throughout the state.

The percentage of Ohio’s patient base making a purchase from a dispensary also rose. In March 2019, only 40% made a purchase from a dispensary. By December, 71% of registered medical marijuana patients had made such a purchase.

Currently, 0.7% of Ohio’s population is on the state’s medical marijuana registry, in line with Pennsylvania, which had approximately 0.6% of its population registered at the end of its first year of sales.

Ohio’s patient counts started at 13,000 in January 2019, increasing to just over 78,000 by the end of December 2019 – a sixfold increase over the course of the year.

Limited supply, driven by a lack of licensed cultivators and processors, kept prices in Ohio high throughout much of 2019. A June 2019 survey of medical marijuana patients in Ohio identified high costs as the primary reason keeping patients from purchasing MMJ from a licensed dispensary.

Prices, however, appear to be falling. Using data from the state that details total sales, total number of infused product units sold and total pounds of flower sold, Marijuana Business Daily estimates the current average price for an ounce of medical cannabis in Ohio is $260, down from roughly $450 per ounce in April 2019.

As more MMJ processors received licenses in Ohio, sales of infused products – which include offerings such as edibles, concentrates and tinctures – began to climb.

In December 2019, roughly seven of every 10 transactions involved the sale of an infused product. That’s up from one of every 10 transactions in May 2019, the first month edible products were available for sale in Ohio.

Looking forward, access will need to continue to improve if Ohio’s medical marijuana market is to reach its full potential.

The law currently allows for a maximum of 60 dispensaries in the state. While Ohio isn’t as restrictive as some MMJ markets, such as Minnesota or Delaware, on a per-capita basis it’s a relatively low number of dispensaries.

Once the state hits its cap of 60 dispensaries, many medical marijuana patients will still need to drive substantial distances to access a dispensary.

Eli McVey can be reached at?[email protected]

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