The Ohio Board of Pharmacy moved ahead with plans to more than double the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the coming months despite objections from Black legislators and business owners who want expansion to wait until state officials have a plan to diversify the industry.

Ohio has 58 licensed dispensaries. Nine are owned and operated by someone who identifies as African American, Native American, Hispanic, Latino or Asian.

Ohio has capped the number of businesses licensed to grow, process and sell medical marijuana, and they’ve become a commodity sold for millions of dollars. People of color in Ohio’s industry say licenses will become even more valuable if Ohio legalizes recreational use; one plan on the table would grant licenses to existing businesses automatically.

“Ohio has a chance to be or set the gold standard when it comes to cannabis inclusion,” said Herb Washington, owner of Leaf Relief dispensary in Boardman.

Pharmacy board moves ahead with license process

The pharmacy board, which regulates dispensaries, voted Tuesday to start the process of awarding an additional 73 licenses. Equity provisions weren’t discussed during the meeting or mentioned in the request for applications approved Tuesday.

The actual application hasn’t yet been finalized, and the board is still reviewing how

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