YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s going to take nine months to a year before Ohioans can walk into a dispensary and buy marijuana. Despite Issue Two passing on Tuesday, the system still needs to be developed.
The owner of a Youngstown dispensary that currently sells medical marijuana is concerned the system could eventually be dominated by big, multi-state operations.
“I’m excited that we have adult use,” said Terrell Washington, owner of Leaf Relief, the medical marijuana dispensary on Market Street.
He’s pleased about having recreational marijuana, but he’s concerned about what he called “multi-state operators worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“I’m not thrilled that the growers get three free dispensaries, so basically, they got a $30 million handout and now control the dispensary market,” said Washington.
Washington says the going rate for dispensary licenses in other states is now about $10 million apiece.
One of those growers is Riviera Creek, located just north of downtown Youngstown, which will get three dispensary licenses. CEO Daniel Kessler says when all is done, there should be around 230 dispensaries, what he called a conservative number to service Ohio.
“As the program rolls out and the rules are finalized, we’ll see growth,” said Kessler.
What Kessler is waiting on are the rules for recreational marijuana. For the time being, only people with medical marijuana cards can buy it.
“The Department of Commerce will be putting those rules together. They’re going to use the framework, I’m sure, of the medical program, but there’s different things that have to happen,” said Kessler.
Washington will be allowed one more dispensary license too, but before he can convert his current dispensary for recreational use, he must be approved by Youngstown and is not allowed to move.
“That’s the other thing about the bill I don’t like,” said Washington.
Washington is confident Youngstown will grant approval, but he’s concerned about dispensaries elsewhere.
“So if I’m in a town that doesn’t want adult use but was OK with medical, I’d have 90 days to close. How is that fair?” he wonders.
Riviera Creek is ready to expand but is waiting on the rules.
“We certainly have our ideas and plans laid out. We have drawings and everything along those lines, but until we know exactly, we got to be careful,” said Kessler.
Kessler says Riviera Creek will be announcing — possibly next week — new concepts, products and programs. He says Riviera Creek will soon be shipping a product concept that will be unique to Ohio.