The three medical marijuana dispensaries approved Monday by the state already have experience in other states in which marijuana is used for medical care.
The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control program approved three dispensaries Monday: GTI Ohio LLC at 1920 Cooper Foster Park Road in Lorain; NMG Ohio LLC at 709 Sugar Lane, Elyria; and AFS Cultivation LLC at 603 Cleveland St., Elyria.
The three dispensaries will have a window of six months to become officially certified to operate. They will need to follow the requirements set by the state and be approved by a Board of Medical Marijuana Compliance Agent, according to the program’s website. Once certified, they can begin to sell medical marijuana to Ohio patients and caregivers under Ohio law.
Cleveland businessman Bobby George is leading GTI Ohio, which is part of an Illinois marijuana cultivator company.
GTI, also known as Green Thumb Industries, has cultivation centers based in Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. The Ohio location will be GTI’s first dispensary, which George said will be an important next step in the company’s expansion.
Through GTI’s experience in other locations, the resistance from the community is only temporary.
“It’s a gradual growth in the industry, people get more comfortable as the industry goes by,” he said.
Mercy Health is barring the only two state-certified physicians in Lorain County from recommending medical marijuana. But, as more physicians are certified each month, by the time the dispensaries are operational, George said enough physicians may be available.
As more positive outcomes happen and patients have more success, George said public opinion likely will change. GTI also was approved for four other locations in Ohio, including Cleveland, Toledo and two in Lakewood. In total, the company applied for 12 Ohio locations.
NMG Ohio, also known as Nevada Medical Group, is a partner in Body and Mind Inc., a Nevada-based medical marijuana cultivator and producer. The company is known more for its ability to supply dispensaries with cannabis and non-smoking cannibal products, including topical ointments, edible foods and electronic cigarettes. The Ohio dispensary will be the first for the company, which generally supplies other companies.
Robert Hasman, president of Body and Mind Inc. and one of the partners in NMG Ohio, anticipates success in this venture.
“We are excited the state of Ohio has selected the NMG Ohio group for a medical dispensary license,” he said via email. “We look forward to sharing our extensive experience with patients in Lorain County.”
Arizona Facilities Supply Cultivation is an Arizona-based biomedical research firm that focuses on research, software development and intellectual property generation, according to its website. The firm also specializes on cultivating, extracting and dispensing medical marijuana. The firm has a location in Maryland as well as pending locations in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Florida.
William Brothers, president of AFS Cultivation, expressed his excitement for the company’s dispensary.
“We’re very pleased to be able to serve the patients of Elyria,” Brothers said.
The approved dispensaries were chosen based on a scoring system from the evaluation process, said Grant Miller, spokesman for the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
The evaluation is divided into 23 questions reviewed by four teams of no less than six evaluators. Each question is worth 10 points, totaling 230 points. The teams focused on specific categories including business plan, operations plan and patient care plan. The operations plan is divided into two sections: compliance and enforcement and patient care.
GTI received the highest score of 184 out of 230 total points, 80 percent. NMG received a score of 168 out of 230, 73 percent. AFS Cultivation received a score of 165 out of 230, 72 percent.
Of the two other top-scoring applicants for the location at 1920 Cooper Foster Park Road, GTI was able to win out because of its higher scoring. There are no available details in which categories the winning applicants scored the highest in.
A retail dispensary is prohibited from being within 500 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground, public park or community addiction services provider, according to state law. In addition, cities, villages and townships can adopt regulations to prohibit or limit the number of retail dispensaries.
There are 21 qualifying medical conditions that are allowed to be treated using medical marijuana.