Health Care and Wellness

Leaf Relief Dispensary Opens in Boardman

BOARDMAN, Ohio — It’s been six months since Steven Baddeley received his medical marijuana card to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and hepatitis C, and he says it’s a much better situation than before.

“You have to go above and beyond and take chances that other people aren’t willing to take,” Baddeley says. 

Those chances may be using drugs such as suboxone and methadone, he says, which can be used to treat pain as well as addiction to narcotic pain relievers. Other chances include turning to the black market, he says. Medical marijuana is a much safer route, he says, and has been working for treating his ailments.

Baddeley was one of a few customers on-hand for the opening of Leaf Relief, which cut the ribbon Friday morning at its dispensary, 4323 Market St. It is the only medical marijuana dispensary open in Mahoning County. The company is a division of Quest Wellness, headed by local businessman Herb Washington.

The company received its certificate of operation from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy in June and had a soft opening on Wednesday. Washington says he is happy with the response from customers so far, despite not being allowed to advertise through traditional means, per state regulation. Leaf Relief has relied solely on word of mouth, social media and news coverage, he says.

“For no advertising, we’ve been pleased with the number of folks who have come through the doors,” he says. “People have been watching the renovation of this building for some time.”

The soft opening gave the new company a chance to work out any issues while serving “a slow trickle” of customers, says Terrell Washington, director of business operations and Herb Washington’s son.

Products at Leaf Relief are being sold initially for less than the market rate, Washington says. For a daily dose of medical marijuana flower – 2.83 grams in the state of Ohio – prices range from $33 to $57, depending on the quality and strength, the younger Washington says. The high-end flower is “the second strongest strain in the state, he says.

“That’s a Tier 2 strain which counts as a little bit more toward their allotment, he says. “That’s why it’s at a higher price point.”

Customers can purchase up to a 90-day supply of flower for vaping, Washington says. Other products include tinctures, concentrated vape oil and edible gummies, the latter of which retail for $80 for a 10- to 12-dose order. Tinctures are sold in two- and four-day doses, he says.

Products are sourced from growers and processors around the state, he says. Among the products most popular thus far include flowers harvested by Riviera Creek LLC, a Level I cultivator in Youngstown. Product lines such as Garlic Cookies and Purple H have been popular among customers, Washington says, but Riviera’s Stambaugh strain “is by far the leader,” he says.

“Our stuff has been their top three selling products so far,” says Sam Brenkus, head cultivator at Riviera Creek.

With three dispensaries now operating within the Mahoning Valley – in February, FRX Health opened its doors in East Liverpool and gLeaf Medical in Warren began operations in April – demand has steadily increased for the Riviera Creek’s products, Brenkus says. “It’s always getting busier. There’s never enough product,” he says.

Economic development representatives and elected officials were on-hand for the opening, including councilwomen Anita Davis and Basia Adamczak, 6th and 7th wards, respectively. 

Davis has received positive and negative feedback among her constituents on the burgeoning medical marijuana industry in the city, she says. Those supporting the industry say “it’s about time,” she says. “They have family members who are already getting their stuff. So they welcome the ability to not have to travel to other places in order to get this medication.”

Those opposed are concerned about the “element that it may attract,” but Davis isn’t worried, she says. “This is Herb Washington. Do you really think he’s going to allow it here?” she says. “No. It’s not going to happen.”

Though Davis has “never used it, nor will use it,” she understands the “practical application” of medical marijuana for patients who need it, she says. And while drugs can be abused, including over-the-counter medications, she says, that shouldn’t prevent patients who need medical marijuana from getting it. When it comes to legal, medical application of marijuana, the councilwoman, aretired detective-sergeant with the Youngstown Police Department, says she is not among the opposition.

“I welcome it to anyone who has a need for it,” Davis says. “I’m not your doctor. Who are we to sit and tell you that you have to suffer?”

Pictured: (From left) Niko Irizarry, patient navigator; Jessie Dann, general manager; Anita Davis, 6th ward councilwoman, Youngstown; Herb Washington, Quest Wellness; Basia Adamczak, 7th ward councilwoman, Youngstown; Terrell Washington, director of business operations; Zac Gierlach, patient navigator; Josh Lankford, patient navigator; Brian Brown, manager.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.