Medical marijuana company files $23.8 million lawsuit against Harvest of Ohio for unpaid loans, interest

Harvest of Ohio owns dispensaries in Beavercreek, Columbus, Athens

A medical cannabis company is seeking the recovery of $23.8 million in what it says are unpaid loans and other fees from the owner of three medical marijuana dispensaries in Ohio, including one in Beavercreek.

Florida-based Trulieve Cannabis Corp. filed a civil lawsuit against Harvest of Ohio and Harvest Grows last week in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

“We have a responsibility as a business and a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders to collect this debt, and that is what this suit seeks to accomplish,” Trulieve officials said in a statement.

Harvest of Ohio operates three dispensaries: on Tonawanda Trail in Beavercreek, in Columbus and in Athens. The company also operates Harvest Grows, a medical marijuana cultivation facility near Ironton.

A Harvest of Ohio spokesperson said the company partnered with Trulieve because of the company’s pledge to support diversity, equity and inclusion.

“The actions of... Trulieve are undermining their pledge to DEI in a bid to gain control of the businesses built by women and people of color, kicking them to the curb,” Harvest of Ohio said in a statement. “This approach to business is not new.”

Harvest of Ohio officials stated that they have voiced concerns with Harvest Health and Recreation Inc. and Trulieve interfering with the management of Harvest of Ohio, the inflation of expenses and charges made to Harvest of Ohio and other concerns.

The lawsuit alleges that the debt consists of capital expenses, operating expenses, cash funding, payroll, licensing fees and rent needed for the Harvest locations to open and begin operation.

Also included in the debt total is more than $4 million in interest, and the lawsuit alleges that Harvest of Ohio executives used the loans to “pay themselves six-figure salaries while simultaneously asking (Trulieve) to lend them even more money.”

According to the complaint filed on Friday, the Ohio Harvest companies entered into several agreements with a cannabis company called Harvest Health and Recreation Inc. beginning in 2020.

These agreements were approved by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and the Ohio Department of Commerce, which both have a role in overseeing Ohio’s medical marijuana program.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

In 2021, Trulieve acquired Harvest Health and Recreation Inc. Trulieve continued financial assistance to the Ohio Harvest companies.

Nicole Yelland, the executive director of communications for Trulieve, said her company has offered more than a dozen deadline extensions for repayment. The 15th extension offered by the company expires this month.

“We agreed to loan them money and they agreed to pay us back, yet they have not paid a penny,” according to a Trulieve statement. “Trulieve recognized that Harvest of Ohio and Harvest Grows were not negotiating in good faith and had no intention of repaying the almost $25 million debt and decided not to extend the terms any further.”

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