Last Monday the Ohio Board of Pharmacy awarded 72 new RFA II provisional dispensary licenses, more than doubling the number of current licenses in the state. Officials at the Board say that there will soon be dispensaries in all 30 districts in the state, noting that license awards were focused on lower populated areas where residents sometimes have to travel hours to get to facilities in large cities such as Cincinnati or Columbus.
One winning team is Green Goat Dispensaries, an offshoot of Coshocton-based Ohio Cannabis Company. The company now has three dispensary licenses to open in Canton, Sandusky, and Upper Sandusky. Owners Cindy Bradford and Brian Wingfield have been operating in the industry since 2017, although they sold a previously won dispensary license to Ascend Wellness Holdings last December.
“From the original program, we’ve all come such a long way,” Bradford said. “Each person walking through our door has a different reason for being there. Our goal is to provide the best service possible to help these patients.”
Wingfield, who was a video game store owner prior to moving into the cannabis space in 2017, said he isn’t setting out to reinvent the wheel in terms of customer service, but instead is focused on providing reliable, quality products to patients in the area. With roughly 260 days to get their facilities off the ground and operating, as mandated by the Board of Pharmacy, he anticipates that Green Goat will be fully operational by December or early January 2023.
“There are a lot of multistate operators in the country, but we as locals are just trying to get it done the best that we can,” Wingfield says. “My life has changed so positively, I feel like my life has truly changed for the better. It’s truly a blessing to provide a plant, anything that helps people, something that is changing lives for the better.
Larger, multistate operators also won licenses. Pittsburgh-based FarmaceuticalRX won a license to open a second dispensary in Cuyahoga Falls. The company announced plans to start construction this summer and projects to be operational by early 2023.
“We love our new dispensary site,” FarmaceuticalRX founder and CEO Rebecca Myers said. “We intend to bring this same retail experience and high level of customer service to Cuyahoga Falls. We look forward to expanding our reach through Ohio and to providing patients with our premium, organic craft products.”
It will be the company’s second dispensary in Ohio. FarmaceuticalRX already operates a dispensary in East Liverpool that also has a cultivation and processing facility on-site.
Operators like Wingfield say that this is only the first step however, as adult use is still heavy on people’s minds. Last week, a court settlement between three Ohio officials and activists for The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) agreed to push a statutory initiative for adult use sales to 2023. The suit filed by the group claimed that House Speaker Bob Cupp, Senate President Matt Huffman, and Secretary of State Frank LaRose colluded to block the forward progress of a proposed adult use cannabis initiative so it would not become a ballot initiative in November 2022.
Many Ohioans advocating for reform believe that SB261 is the best chance to get adult use to become a possibility in Ohio. The measure would let physicians prescribe cannabis for any condition from which a patient could benefit or experience relief from cannabis use. It would also bring in a massive influx of revenue, as Ohio State University recently predicted roughly $375 million in annual sales if Ohio were legalize adult use.