A medical marijuana dispensary, potentially the first in the region, could open on Tuesday in a shopping strip near the Walmart in Lebanon.
“We should be the first one to open in the southwest region.” said Mac Amin, manager of the About Wellness Ohio dispensary.
On Tuesday, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy sent out a notice it had “awarded a Dispensary Certificate of Operation” to the new business.
About Wellness is at 1525 Genntown Dr., Suite B5, across the parking lot from the Walmart store off U.S. 42, on the northeast edge of Lebanon.
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Last week, staff members were adding finishing touches in anticipation of a ribbon-cutting Thursday and opening to the public next week.
“We’re hopeful for Tuesday,” said Tejal Desai , co-owner of the dispensary with a group also operating one in Connecticut.
“Quality of life, that’s our big thing,” said Desai, a pharmacist. “We spend a lot of time talking to patients.”
Lebanon is the seat of county government in one of Ohio’s most conservative counties.
In 2017, the city council debated for hours, but took no steps to limit medical marijuana businesses in the city, at least partially due to questions about the legality of moratoriums or other actions blocking it in much of the region.
Desai said he had met with city leaders and the local chamber of commerce about opening here.
On Tuesday, there were no responses to requests for comment from the mayor or city manager.
Ryan Tasseff, a resident, businessman and 2017 council candidate who urged the city council not to limit medical marijuana, supported the opening.
“I’m really glad to see it come through,” Tasseff said.
Desai, Amin and other staff expect a line to form along the sidewalk in front of the store for opening day.
“We’re going to expect to be pretty busy the first day,” Desai said. “We just want the patients know we’re ready to help.”
Peggy Holton, 68, of Kettering said she is “very anti-drugs” but got her marijuana card within the past month.
She didn’t get one earlier because she didn’t want to drive across the state, but knew a dispensary had to open nearby soon.
“I thought about going to Columbus, but I kept reading where locally they were going to be opening,” she said. “I find it ridiculous I can go a mile in any direction and find a liquor store and I have to go miles to find a dispensary.”
Holton, who suffers from chronic lower back pain, said she will be among the first patients at the Lebanon dispensary. She’s “ready to try something that isn’t expensive and might be helpful.”
“Injections are very helpful but insurance only allows two a year and it costs thousands of dollars,” she said. “Eventually it’s out of everybody’s pocket because insurance is picking it up.”
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At the Lebanon dispensary, patients have to be buzzed into the vestibule of the business. Once cleared to enter the second security door, they move into a central room with tables, chairs, private meeting areas and restrooms to consult with staff and wait until it’s their turn to enter the dispensary.
Each patient will need to fill out introductory paperwork.
“Once you come through the second door, you’re essentially in our ecosystem,”Amin said, as he showed a reporter through the door leading into the central waiting room.
The products will be packaged in uni-doses. The maximum daily allowance: 2.83 grams or 1/10th of an ounce in Ohio.
The state has issued 15 certificates of operation for dispensaries. So far, 13 are open, according to Amin.
“The majority are in the north,” he said.
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Along the walls of the dispensary room, product packaging will be displayed. Actual marijuana will be in “sniffer jars” in cases near registers where purchases are made, Amin added.
About Wellness plans to use six to nine vendors and sell grinders, vaporizers and other accessories used with the marijuana.
Amin declined to say how much money is invested, but acknowledged About Wellness could seek a second location “depending on how things are going.”
The interior’s industrial design is shared with Eastern religious figures and wall hangings.
“Our mission is the journey to wellness, a better quality of life,” Amin said.
Reporter Chris Stewart contributed to this story.