First dispensary given green light to open

A medical marijuana retail outlet in the eastern Ohio village of Wintersville on Wednesday became the first dispensary to receive the green light to open from state regulators.

Cresco Labs‘ CY+ dispensary – near Steubenville, about 240 miles northeast of Cincinnati – was the first of 56 state-licensed medical marijuana retail outlets to receive a certificate of operation from the state after a final inspection late last month.

“Receiving the first approval to operate is a major milestone in the transformation of the cannabis program in Ohio,” said Charles Bachtell, CEO of Chicago-based Cresco Labs. The company also runs a 50,000-square-foot growing and cultivation facility in Yellow Springs.

But even with a certificate to operate, the dispensaries can’t start selling medical marijuana until their products have been tested at state-certified testing labs for quality and potency.

So far, none of the five testing labs that have been granted provisional medical marijuana licenses in Ohio has been approved to start testing.

Two small-scale growers have already harvested their first crops, and a large-scale grower planned to harvest its first crop early this month. Marijuana must be dried and cured, which takes a couple weeks, before it can be tested.

Hocking College’s testing lab is scheduled for a final inspection Dec. 18. Lab director Jonathan Cachat told the Enquirer he expects the lab will pass and could begin collecting samples to test on Dec. 19. The lab will have a three-day turnaround for dried flower, longer for lotions, edibles and other products that likely won’t be manufactured until next year.

So if all goes according to plan, Cachat said, there may be a very small amount of marijuana buds for sale by the end of the year.

Cresco said its dispensary will eventually offer a wide selection of pharmaceutical-grade marijuana for patients who have been certified by a doctor to have at least one of 21 approved medical conditions.

Products will include flower, edibles, vape pens and cartridges, oral sprays, pills and transdermal patches.

In addition, dispensary staff will offer one-on-one consultations with patients to help ensure they’re getting the right products to meet their conditions or symptoms.

“Our Wintersville staff is trained by leading cannabis doctors and researchers across the country to ensure that that our patients’ specific needs are consistently met,” Bachtell said.

Cresco officials said they could have limited quantities of marijuana ready for sale before the end of the year, if the testing labs are certified soon.

Locally, the seven licensed dispensaries in the Cincinnati area are in various stages of readiness for inspection, with anticipated openings ranging from next month to next spring.

All of the dispensaries had 180 days from the date they received their provisional licenses to receive their certificate of operation.

But construction an other delays have forced many license holders to submit variance requests to extend the provisional licensing period.

Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program was supposed to be fully operational by Sept. 8 but was beset with licensing problems and construction delays.