While applicants for Ohio’s 73 medical marijuana dispensary licenses wait for regulators to refine who the winners of said licenses are, Grown In researched the ownership of the top applications, determined if they were a multistate operator, and if they are based in Ohio.

Grown In limited its analysis to the top applicants, chosen by multiplying the number of allocated licenses per region by two, to account for applicants that may be disqualified.

Most applications came from companies that are not Ohio-based, and already have dispensaries in other states. However, the overwhelming majority of multistate operators that were highly ranked were not big, publicly traded companies.

Applicants for Ohio’s new dispensary licenses had to pay a $5,000 application fee, prove that they had a location ready, and had $250,000 available for each license. The applications were due on Nov. 18, 2021 and the drawing process concluded on Jan. 27, 2022.

MSOs

Ohio does not release applicant information beyond the company name, and Ohio does not require company owners to be listed on articles of incorporation, so Grown In was able to only identify pertinent information for 81 out of the 146 top applications, or 55.5%. 

Over half of the applications identified, 41, came from multistate operators. Though they are largely not names from large or publicly traded companies, they often hail from states like Michigan, Arizona, and Missouri. 

One reason large, publicly traded companies may have stayed out of the license application process is because they already reached the cap allowed by the state of Ohio. Five publicly traded, multi-state operators – Acreage Holdings, Verano Holdings, Green Thumb Industries, Columbia Care, and Cresco Labs – have already maxed out the state’s dispensary cap of five licenses. 

Here are a few of the multi-state operators we were able to identify:

  • Nature Med OH, LLC is a multistate operator with five dispensaries in Missouri: Kansas City, St. Louis, Gladstone, Independence, and O’Fallon. Nature Med also has a dispensary in Tucson, Arizona, where it has been operating since 2011. Nature Med submitted nine applications. Four made it to the top.
  • Nectar Markets has three dispensaries in Oregon, where it has been operating since 2014. Jeremy Pratt is the CEO. They submitted 38 applications, and six made it to the top. 
  • International multistate operator AUDACIOUS has brands in California, Nevada, and other states. Terry Booth is the CEO and also leads publicly-traded Ausa Corporation. The company submitted 16 applications. 
  • Publicly traded multistate operator Marimed submitted six applications and four applications made it to the top. The company has grow operations in four states; dispensaries in three states; and brand distributions in six states and Puerto Rico. This would be the company’s first dispensary in Ohio.

Home team advantage?

Of the 80 applicants identified, just 15 were Ohio-based companies, only 18.75%.

Here are a few Ohio companies that applied for a new dispensary license in the state:

  • Adam Thomarios is the founder and CEO of Kluch Cannabis/Citizen Real Estate, LLC and is also the vice president of The Apostolos Group DBA Thomarios, a construction company. They submitted 73 applications, the most of any company. Six made it to the top.
  • Would-be multistate operator The Green Goat appears to own only one dispensary in Oklahoma. Nineteen applications were submitted by the company and four made it to the top. 

Cannabis industry experts

Several of the applicants, about 33%, Grown In was able to identify, appear to also have other mariijuana businesses.

  • President, managing partner, and founder of Community Greenhouse Ohio, LLC Todd Johnson is also the executive vice president of New Jersey Operations at Justice Grown, which has licenses in Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Missouri, Utah, and Michigan. They submitted six applications; three made it to the top. 
  • One of the founders of Daily ReLeaf is Dr. Andrew Whelton, an adjunct professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Daily ReLeaf has one dispensary in Baltimore, Maryland. The company submitted four applications and one made it to the top.

Applications with duplicate addresses

Grown In also determined that many applicants used the same address for their application – something that may disqualify top applicants because regulators have said lower-ranked applications identifying the same location as higher-ranked ones will not receive a license.

Nine of the top applications had addresses that were repeated either by the same company or by different companies. 

“If more than one application identifies the same location for a proposed dispensary, the highest ranked application on the ranked order list that is found to be eligible for licensure shall be awarded a PDL and any lower-ranked applications identifying the same location will not receive a PDL,” Board of Pharmacy regulators in Ohio wrote in a January FAQ document. 

Top ranked applications with duplicate addresses are:

  • Aron OH LLC
  • Buzzed Ventures LLC
  • Campbell Hill Ventures LLC
  • Community Greenhouse Ohio, LLC
  • Green Power OH LLC
  • Guaranteed Investments OH, LLC
  • Loomin LLC
  • Ohio Cannabis Ventures, LLC
  • Twice The Wellness, LLC
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Cynthia Fernandez is a data reporter for Grown In. Previously, she was a politics reporter for Spotlight PA, a nonpartisan newsroom based in Harrisburg and reported at the Boston Globe. In 2019 she graduated...