Ohio’s cannabis sales have plateaued, admit operators in the state, as February data shows less sales than May 2021, and no appreciable change in monthly sales numbers since then. While cannabis markets are booming in adjacent Pennsylvania and Michigan, Ohio operators ascribe their state’s flat medical cannabis sales to market structural problems present since the state’s market launch in 2016.
“I think the patient experience is not too great,” said Pete Nischt, Vice President for compliance and communications at Klutch Cannabis, one of the state’s largest operators.
“What’s happening is people are getting cards then realizing after spending $200 on a doctor, and then $50 to the state for a medical card, some of these people then have to drive hours to get to a dispensary. They then end up waiting in long lines because we’re cramming too many patients into a low number of dispensaries,” said Nischt.
Ohio reached 58 operating dispensaries last week, but that number is considerably fewer per patient than the original intentions, says Nischt, which was meant to be 60 dispensaries to serve up to 50,000 total patients. As of March 2, the state reported 129,740 of 224,611 total registered patients.
Nischt and others contend there would be more active patients if there were more dispensaries, a wish soon to come true, as the state is sorting through applications for 73 new dispensaries across the state.
“We feel that quite a few people dropped their cards,” said Andy Rayburn, co-founder of cultivator Buckeye Relief. “The offset are newer cards, people without a buying rhythm like a seasoned buyer.”
“Patient base growth has flattened,” he said.”
Wholesale prices in Ohio have dropped significantly in the last year, says Nischt, which should be attracting new patients. State regulators recently allowed all cultivators to double their canopy, flooding a market that already has more cultivators than dispensaries.
“We are priced lower than all other similarly situated East Coast and Midwest states. The last program update we got pegged pricing at $250 an ounce, which is cheaper than Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Illinois,” said Nischt.
But not lower than Michigan, which has experienced steeply dropping retail prices for adult use since the fall. That state’s wholesale prices have dropping to $700 a pound – $43.75 and ounce – while Ohio’s cheapest pot is well above $1,500 a pound wholesale, according to Nischt.
“Some people may be retreating back to the legacy market. There’s a large legacy program in Ohio, this program is not designed to take it out,” said Nischt. There’s millions of people in Ohio using [cannabis], and there’s only 130,000 in the program.”
“We’ve certainly seen it,” said Rayburn. “The positive will be that when the weather gets good, the patient base will grow.”