Health Care and Wellness

gLeaf Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Warren

WARREN, Ohio – Katie Barb of Warren has experienced her share of health problems.  She’s struggled with several illnesses – some of which were treated in the past with opiates.

“That landed me in rehab in 2011, and I don’t want to go that route again,” she says.  “I was on about 30-some pills.”

Barb’s other option was to obtain a referral from a doctor to treat her condition with medical marijuana.  She had already used cannabidiol, or CDB, gummies that she said helped her symptoms.

“We’re going to go from here to see what happens,” Barb said, as she stood with two other patients outside Green Leaf Medical of Ohio, the city’s first medical marijuana dispensary, waiting for its doors to open.

The new dispensary at 2932 Youngstown Road, directly across the street from the Trumbull County Board of Elections, is the first to open in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.  The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the grand opening Friday.“We did a soft opening on Tuesday just to get the employees ready and make sure everything is working good from an IT  [information technology] perspective,” said John Bonner, partner in the venture.  “Things have gone very well.”

Bonner said the dispensary had seen about 250 people over the last three days, and he expects that number to double over the weekend.

Dispensaries across the state are limited to selling medical marijuana flower, which the patient can administer through vaping.  Other products such as tinctures, edibles and oils are not available on the market yet, since most of the processors have not come online.

“Flower is in abundance out there, though,” Bonner said. Plus, there are just 13 dispensaries open across the entire state.  In February, FarmaceuticalRX, based in Farrell, Pa., opened its first dispensary in East Liverpool.

“We’ve got good relationships with the growers and have 50 varieties in stock,” he said.  The dispensary employs seven.

Earlier this year, Riviera Creek LLC, a medical marijuana cultivator in Youngstown, harvested its first crop.  That operation sells flower directly to the dispensaries under three brand names.  Once processors become operational, growers like Riviera would have their products converted into tinctures, edibles and oils. These would then be delivered to dispensaries.

The dispensary building once served as an eye clinic and was vacant for a handful of years before Green Leaf purchased it.

It took about a month and a half to assess the site and adjust its floor plan to accommodate state regulations, Bonner said. “Once we did that, it really only took us about two and a half months,” to renovate the building.

Mayor Doug Franklin said that the dispensary not only repurposes a vacant building along U.S. 422, but it means more options for patients.  “It’s pretty exciting when you look at it from the medical standpoint – there are 21 illnesses and ailments that can be addressed with medicinal cannabis.”

The mayor said he is particularly impressed with the level of security of the new operation.  “Every square inch of this place is under surveillance,” and all visitors must be registered with the state of Ohio before they can enter.  “It’s fantastic to see.”

Pictured at top: Cutting the ribbon April 5 are Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, gLeaf employees Natalie Dean, Mary Hudoba, John Bonner, owner, Carol Paoletta, AJ Caraballo, general manager, and Shayla Demar. To their right is state Rep. Michael O’Brien.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.