As the opening of the region’s first medical marijuana dispensary last week refocused attention on the burgeoning industry in the area, Butler County’s first dispensary is close to opening.
A line formed at the door on Tuesday as About Wellness Ohio became the first in the Greater Cincinnati region to sell medical marijuana to licensed customers in Lebanon.
Slowed by lawsuits, construction delays and other problems, the state’s first few dispensaries didn’t open until mid-January, most in the northeast corner of Ohio three or more hours away from Dayton, Hamilton, Middletown and Springfield.
Now things are also moving in Monroe. A representative of Jimmy Gould of CannAscend LLC, who owns the Strawberry Fields dispensary in Monroe, said it should be opening in the next few weeks.
The representative said work is nearing completion to ensure the new dispensary will meet all of the state requirements and that the new security and data systems were being installed.
“We should be open in June pending the final state Board of Pharmacy inspection,” the representative said.
He said the company’s other dispensaries, located in Dayton, Logan and Marietta, are also expected to open about the same time in June.
If the new dispensary passes the pharmacy board inspection, the state Medical Marijuana Control Project will issue the Certificate of Operation that will open the doors to customers.
Monroe officials recently completed a zoning site compliance inspection of the new dispensary located at 300 N. Main St. (Cincinnati-Dayton Road) and issued a building occupancy permit on May 3, said Kevin Chesar, Monroe’s development director. However, he was not sure of the approval timing from the state.
Monroe is also the site of a Level II cultivation license that was awarded to Hemma LLC, which is building a growing facility at 100 Edison Drive. According to state officials, Level II licenses allow for growing spaces for up to 3,000 square feet.
Carrie Francis, Ohio Department of Commerce spokesperson, said the Hemma LLC facility was awarded a provisional license on Nov. 3, 2017 and received its certificate of operation on Sept. 11, 2018. She said the certificate of operation enabled Hemma LLC to begin cultivating marijuana.
Nine dispensaries have provisional licenses to open in the region, including another in Springfield and others in Beavercreek, Lebanon, Monroe, Riverside and the village of Seven Mile.
The 2016 law authorized medical marijuana use by patients with 21 conditions, including cancer or chronic pain, in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing. Patients and their caregivers are allowed to possess up to a 90-day supply. Smoking or home growing it is barred.
The Lebanon dispensary was the 17th dispensary to open of the 56 authorized to open as of last September.
Many of the dispensaries have been slow to open due to lawsuits, construction delays and other issues. Fewer than half of the more than 31,000 patients registered as of Thursday have yet to purchase medical marijuana, according to state records.
About Wellness Ohio, the first medical marijuana dispensary less than an hour’s drive from most area patients, opened in Lebanon. And another dispensary may open its doors in Springfield early next month.
Customers who arrived for the first day shared their stories about how they say medical marijuana has helped them cope with injuires or other ailments.
Melissa West, a patient from West Chester, said the Lebanon dispensary staff walked her through the whole process in 15-20 minutes, including talking to her about different strains of medical cannabis and their effects depending when during the day they are used.
“They were very helpful,” West said. “They answered every question I had.”
Sherry Patterson, of Morrow, told this news organization that she has benefitted from medical marijuana but had to drive to Columbus or Cleveland before the dispensary opened in Lebanon last week.
“It’s changed my life,” Patterson said “I’m able to sleep. I’m off of nine medications.”
BY THE NUMBERS: Ohio medical marijuana program
Cultivators (as of May 22, 2019)
• 17 Level I provisional licenses
• 8 Provisional licensees have received Certificates of Operation
• 13 Level II provisional licenses
• 9 Provisional licensees have received Certificates of Operation
Dispensaries (as of May 22, 2019)
• 56 Provisional licenses
• 17 Provisional licensees have received a Certificate of Operation
Patients & Caregivers (as of April 30, 2019)
• 34,225 Recommendations
• 31,075 Registered patients with recommendations
• 2,386 Patients with Veteran Status
• 1,216 Patients with Indigent Status
• 171 Patients with a Terminal Diagnosis
• 15,339 Unique patients who purchased medical marijuana (as reported to OARRS by licensed dispensaries)
• 2,109 Registered Caregivers
Physicians (as of May 22, 2019)
• 484 Certificates to Recommend
Processors (as of May 22, 2019)
• 39 provisional licenses (40 allowed by rule)
• 2 Provisional licensees have received Certificates of Operation
Sales Figures (as of May 19, 2019)
• 892 lbs. of plant material
• 6,719 units of manufactured product
• $7.3 million in product sales
• 51,278 total receipts
Testing (as of May 22, 2019)
• 5 Provisional licenses
• 3 Provisional licensees have received Certificates of Operation
SOURCE: Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program