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Analysis: Ohioans Spent More Than $700 Million At Michigan Cannabis Dispensaries In 2023

Michigan legalized cannabis for adult use in 2018, after having already legalized medical cannabis years prior (2008). In November 2023, Ohio became the twenty-fourth state to legalize cannabis for adult use and Ohio regulators are currently accepting applications from aspiring recreational cannabis business operators. Sales could begin as early as next month in Ohio.

Many residents of Ohio have crossed the border into Michigan to make cannabis purchases, and once legal adult-use sales begin in Ohio, it will create a tectonic shift for the legal industries in both states.

“Tim Johnson, a longtime Ohio lobbyist and marijuana industry consultant, estimates Ohioans spent more than $700 million at Michigan marijuana stores last year.” reported MJBizDaily. In March 2024, Michigan’s legal cannabis industry sold more products than California’s legal cannabis industry.

“Michigan now sells more legal cannabis than California, according to data shared with SFGATE by BDSA, a cannabis analytics firm.” SFGate stated in its initial reporting. “Michigan sold 22 million cannabis products in March, while California only sold 21.3 million products, according to the firm.”

According to the Ohio Department of Commerce’s public information officer, and as reported by 13ABC, “as of Friday at noon 219 applications have been filed to convert active medical marijuana licensees to dual-use cannabis licensees.”

In Ohio, current owners of medical cannabis business licenses get to apply first before non-license owners. Current applicants are applying for ‘dual-use licenses’ which will permit them to conduct cannabis commerce for both the medical and recreational markets.

“The public information officer, Jamie Crawford, wrote that so far, the Division of Cannabis Control told eight facilities, including testing labs, cultivators, and processors that they qualify for a provisional license.” 13ABC also reported.

Pablo Zuniac of Zuniac and Associates recently conducted an analysis of Ohio’s cannabis industry, and is projecting that by mid-2025 the state will have 254 licensed cannabis dispensaries, nearly double what the state currently has for medical cannabis.

“Ohio is estimated to have 254 dispensaries by mid-2025, according to new equity research by a marijuana financial analyst, putting it in the middle of the density pack among states where recreational marijuana is sold.” stated in its original reporting.

“The 254 dispensaries Zuniac estimates Ohio will have by the middle of next year would be 22 dispensaries for every 1 million people in the state.” also stated. For contextual purposes, below are some of the ratios for other states (dispensaries per 1 million residents):

  • Connecticut: 9 dispensaries per 1 million residents
  • Illinois and New Jersey: 13 dispensaries per 1 million residents
  • Maryland: 17 dispensaries per 1 million residents
  • Arizona: 21 dispensaries per 1 million residents
  • California: 32 dispensaries per 1 million residents
  • Missouri: 33 dispensaries per 1 million residents
  • Washington: 57 dispensaries per 1 million residents
  • Massachusetts: 68 dispensaries per 1 million residents
  • Michigan: 97 dispensaries per 1 million residents
  • Colorado and Oregon: 190 dispensaries per 1 million residents

According to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, as of April 30th, 2024, the state had 167,153 “patients with both an active registration and an active recommendation.” Ohio released updated patient enrollment numbers on May 28th, and the active patient enrollment number dropped to 165,746 patients.

According to cannabis industry data company Headset, “Ohio has been averaging $40 million in monthly sales over the past year. Generally, we see a 2 to 3X increase in sales with adult-use conversion, which would put Ohio at an $85 million monthly run rate right out of the gate. This is conservative; we anticipate even higher sales due to Ohio’s unique market dynamics and large population.”

The pre-roll sector in Ohio is assumed to experience the most dramatic change, with Headset pointing out that, “Ohio’s medical market prohibits smoking, banning Pre-Rolls, a category that captures 13.4% of national sales. Expect this to change with adult use, leading to significant opportunities in the Pre-Roll category.”

According to initial reporting by Marijuana Moment, Ohio recreational sales are anticipated to generate between $276.2 million and $403.6 million in annual cannabis tax dollars within five years.