After long process, Monroe medical marijuana dispensary opens

The official debut Friday of a medical marijuana dispensary at 300 N. Main St. in Monroe drew dozens of attendees.

Jimmy Gould, CEO of CannAscend LLC, said the new location comes after nearly seven years of work to get medical marijuana in Ohio and two years of working to bring it to Monroe.

“It’s a dream come true,” Gould told this news outlet at the dispensary’s official opening Friday. “Our goal was to serve the patients of Ohio and make this a reality and help people as an alternative therapy, which we think has tremendous benefits.”

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Kenneth Brech, of Monroe, said he likes having a medical marijuana dispensary a five-minute drive from his home.

Medical marijuana, he said, helps “quite a bit” with his migraine headaches, much more than a decade’s worth of prescription medication and a nerve block.

“It’s quicker,” he said. “It helps alleviate (the pain).”

Gould said he and others at CannAscend worked with state legislators to build a program under House Bill 523 that would work "for all kinds of people."

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“They’ve all been willing to have dialogue, and when you have dialogue, people cross the aisles and make things happen, something that I think is lacking in our country,” he said.

In June 2016, former Gov. John Kasich signed a bill that authorizes use by patients with 21 conditions, including cancer or chronic pain, in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing. Patients and their caregivers will be allowed to possess up to a 90-day supply. Smoking or home growing it is barred.

Of the 56 provisional licenses for dispensaries approved last summer by the state, two were in Butler County. In addition to Strawberry Fields in Monroe, the other was the Bloom Medicinals, a medical marijuana dispensary in Seven Mile that opened Thursday.

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Gould said he’s hoping that the medical community will work with marijuana dispensaries, “get educated” on its benefits and understand that medical marijuana is “an idea whose time has come.”

Strawberry Fields’ Monroe location is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Patients enter via a security-controlled door and are greeted by security guards and ushered into a waiting area before obtaining access to a private consultation room where they can meet with dispensary agents. Signs at the front desk caution that “backpacks are not permitted inside the dispensary” and that no photography is allowed.

Strawberry Fields’ three other Ohio dispensaries will open next week, including Tuesday in Marietta, Wednesday in Dayton and Thursday in Logan.

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