State Auditor Questions Ohio Medical Marijuana Program

Kessler’s Company Wins License to Grow Marijuana

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Riviera Creek Holding LLC, a company primarily owned by CEO Brian Kessler and his nephew, Daniel Kessler, the chief operating officer, is one of 12 companies today awarded a Level 1 license by the state to grow medical marijuana in up to 25,000 square feet of space.

The Kessler family owns a building at 1275 Crescent St. in Youngstown where the grow site will operate. Plans are to invest $2 million initially to retrofit the complex, which formerly housed Brian Kessler’s Maui Toys Inc., for the medical marijuana operation.

The Ohio Department of Commerce received 109 applications for Level 1 licenses and 76 for Level II licenses for smaller grow sites. Riviera Creek is the only company to secure a license in the Mahoning Valley and was ranked fourth from the top in the agency’s scoring system.

Kessler, president of SBL Venture Capital LLC in Los Angeles, is a native of Boardman. The Kessler family’s company, Boardman Molded Products, has operated in the Mahoning Valley for 80 years.

“We’re completely Youngstown-oriented,” Kessler said.

To secure the license, Riviera Creek had to pay a $20,000 application fee, a certificate of operation fee of $180,000, a $200,000 annual renewal fee, and provide $750,000 in an escrow account or surety bond. The company also had to establish $500,000 in liquid assets.


Kessler said Riviera is backed by substantial capital to fund the startup.

According to RIviera Creek’s application, the Kesslers each hold a 42.25% stake in the partnership. Chris Stock, identified as “CCO” on the documents, is shown as having a 5.625% stake, as is Wilbert B. Markovitz, who is only named as an owner.

Another owner, Terence Coates holds 3.75% of the company while medical advisory board members Dipika Patel, Shawn Ryan and Stephen L. Brenner (chairman) have 0.1% stakes, as does Joseph Bernon, transportation director.

Also listed on Riviera’s application but holding no shares are Jaden Levitt, chief financial officer; Patrick Gagne, head cultivator; and Sean Halloran, chief security officer.

Brian Kessler has worked with the legal cannabis industry for about five years and has developed a business model that he said could deliver a safe, contaminant-free product to market.

“I’ve worked with about 75 different businesses in this industry and understand how to bring a safe, healthy product to market,” he explained during a recent interview.

Technology has evolved, Kessler noted, and his research has helped to develop growing methods that are both water- and energy-efficient and enables control over the cultivation process.

The companies awarded Level I licenses have nine months to fully comply with state law and regulations and receive a certificate of operation after a state inspection.

The 12 businesses awarded the licenses and their score are:

  • Buckeye Relief LLC in Eastlake (179.28 points)
  • Grow Ohio Pharmaceuticals LLC in Newton Township (173.44 points)
  • OPC Cultivation LLC in Huron (173.28 points)
  • Riviera Creek Holdings LLC in Youngstown (172.72 points)
  • Pure Ohio Wellness LLC in Springfield (167.64 points)
  • Columbia Care OH LLC in Mt. Orab (167.08 points)
  • Terradiol Ohio LLC in Canton (165.48 points)
  • Standard Wellness Company LLC in Gibsonburg (161.28 points)
  • AT-CPC of Ohio LLC in Akron (161.28 points)
  • Cresco Labs Ohio LLC in Yellow Springs (159.80 points)
  • Parma Wellness Center LLC in Parma (153.08 points)
  • Harvest Grows LLC in Hamilton Township or Cleveland (142.04 points)

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