Industry Reports

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in East Liverpool

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – A company based in Farrell, Pa. is the first to open a dispensary in the tri-county area dedicated to selling medical marijuana to patients in the region.

FarmaceuticalRX opened its doors to patients Thursday morning here, becoming the sixth dispensary in Ohio to sell medical marijuana, says Paul Crowder, vice president of operations.

“We’re so excited,” Crowder said. “From the application and approval process, to the construction and the grand opening, it’s been a long road.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Feb. 7 to commemorate the grand opening of the dispensary.

The State of Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy awarded FarmaceuticalRX a dispensary certificate on Wednesday, and the company started consulting with its first patients that evening. It is the first dispensary to open in the Mahoning-Trumbull-Columbiana county area.

The company converted a former photography studio at 1865 Dresden Ave. into the new dispensary, Crowder noted. “We rehabbed it and added about 2,000 square feet,” he said.

Crowder said the layout of the building is not unlike a physician’s office, replete with a waiting room and educational suite where patients are counseled about the product. “You enter a waiting room, we verify your prescription and identification, your patient card, and then one of the techs escorts you into a secure access area.”

There, patients are presented with information about medicinal cannabis and how it works, Crowder said. Then, the patient moves into another room where the pharmacist goes over important details such as dosages and ways to monitor its effects.

Dispensaries currently sell just the flower of the plant, which is then vaporized for the patient to use. In the future, the flower could be processed into oils, tinctures and edibles for patients, Crowder said.

At present, patients are limited to 2.83 grams of medical cannabis per day, which retails at $50. “We’ll see the price decrease when more cultivators and processors come online.”

Twelve employees work in the dispensary, while the processor could employ another 30. More employees would be needed should the cultivation operation be approved.

Medical marijuana sales in the state began on Jan. 16, according to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. As of Feb. 3, total sales of medical cannabis stood at $502,961 in Ohio on a volume of 68.22 pounds.

As of Dec. 31, the program had 4,964 recommendations in the patient care registry for medical marijuana registry cards. Of that number, 3,575 had activated their cards.

FarmaceuticalRX also plans to open a medical-marijuana processing center in East Liverpool along Harvey Avenue in about four months, Crowder said.

The company had initially applied for a Level I cultivator license, but was turned down. It has since appealed the state’s decision and won, and is now awaiting final approval to add a cultivation operation to the processing facility. A Level I license allows recipients to grow up to 25,000 square feet of medical cannabis the first year and expand its footprint to as much as 75,000 square feet.

FarmaceuticalRX is developing a cultivation/processing complex at a former industrial site in Farrell. However, all sales of medical marijuana are limited to the state in which it is grown.

Mayor Ryan Stovall said the industry was welcomed with open arms in the community, and expects the business to include cultivation, processing and retail sales.

“We fully support them and await the state certification for the processing plant,” he said. The mayor is also confident the state will sign off on a cultivation license, as it has done with others that have won appeals.

“We’re excited about it. We recruited them here,” Stovall said.

The company is in the process of renovating the former Ferro Corp. building on Harvey Ave. for its processing operations. Should FarmaceuticalRX obtain a cultivator license, the building would house a grow site and a research and development laboratory.

“They’re looking at doing about $100 million worth of business a year,” Stovall says. “That’s $1.5 million in income tax plus another 100 jobs. That’s very significant for us.”

Pictured: East Liverpool Mayor Ryan Stovall and FarmaceuticalRX CEO Rebecca Myers.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.