Smaller medical marijuana grower says demand is outstripping supply

Cresco Labs director of cultivation, Dennis Plamondon, inspects marijuana plants that have been harvested inside the big state licensed medical marijuana facility in Yellow Springs. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Ohio rejects Dayton business’ request to expand

Some smaller medical marijuana cultivators in Ohio say they are running out of room to grow their product and it is impacting patients.

Aaron Morgan, vice president of cultivation, compliance and inventory at Dayton grower Ohio Clean Leaf, said he feels it’s not fair to medical marijuana patients.

“If you’re a patient and you get relief from a very specific kind of cannabis, you may not always be able to find it,” Morgan said. “That would be frustrating. When you go to the pharmacy, there’s always Advil there.

Ohio Clean Leaf, 2046 Valley Street, is one of five smaller craft cultivators that filed requests to expand their growing spaces. The Ohio Department of Commerce recently denied those requests.

Ohio Clean Leaf was the first to request expansion, on Oct. 21, 2019. Agri-Med LLC in Meigs County, Ancient Roots LLC in Wilmington, FN Group dba Wellspring Fields in Ravenna and FireRock LTD. in Columbus also requested to expand their space.

Level II growers are allotted 3,000 square feet to grow. They can potentially expand to 9,000 square feet in the future. Level I growers have up to 25,000 feet to grow. Nineteen Level I growers have provisional licenses and 14 Level II growers have provisional licenses. Ten cultivators have certificates of operation.

Ohio Department of Commerce spokeswoman Jennifer Jarrell said there is no expansion available at this time and that’s why the requests were denied in June.

“The program is still developing and the director has yet to request submissions for expansion,” Jarrell said in an email to this newspaper. “However, once the market has matured and the discussions surrounding the need for expansion become more focused the (Department of Commerce) would review data from the inventory tracking system, which may include both individual licensee data and program-wide data.”

MORE: Ohio medical marijuana: What happened in the first year

Morgan said Ohio Clean Leaf saw the number of medical marijuana patients growing and wanted to be able to expand to serve them. More than 78,000 patients signed up in the first year of the medical marijuana program and another 31,000 registered during the first five months of 2020.

“We wanted to get ahead of the game before that patient population explodes, because we feel that it is going to expand exponentially,” Morgan said.

Morgan said he respects the Department of Commerce’s decision, but thinks it could hurt the business.

“I understand that there needs to be a process, but I believe for the Level II growers to be able to compete in the market we need to be able to expand,” Morgan said. “The program was designed to let you expand. If there is a demand for our product and we haven’t had any compliance issues, I don’t see why they wouldn’t let us expand.”

Morgan said that he can only see how his business is doing, he doesn’t have access to how other growers are doing statewide.

“The state regulators, they have access to the statewide inventory report,” he said. “So from the state’s regulatory standpoint, they can see maybe some people are sitting on tons of product, which we are not, so it’s hard to say (if we’re an outlier in this issue.)”

Ohio Clean Leaf is in the process of building a lab to make processed medical marijuana products. Morgan said he is worried that, the way things are right now, they won’t be able to grow enough material to process.

“We’ll have to seek material from other cultivators,” Morgan said. “We’re a little nervous about that. None of this stuff is cheap to do.”

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