COLUMBUS (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) — Harvest of Ohio LLC’s medical marijuana dispensaries, including one in Clintonville, are ready for grand openings – for a second time.
The Columbus location at 2950 N. High St. aims to open Aug. 16, pending final sign-off from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
“I am so happy we are finally here,” CEO Ariane Kirkpatrick said inside the store Monday. “This is probably the most beautiful site of all the dispensaries in Ohio.”
Kirkpatrick had planned to open in March 2020, right after settling a legal battle with the state agency, then had to wait out the pandemic.
Harvest’s dispensaries in Athens and the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek are set to open in September. Confusingly, there’s a Harvest Pizzeria across the street in Clintonville, but the businesses have no relation.
“I’m excited to see this dream coming to reality,” said Brandon Jones, general manager for Clintonville and Dayton.
Kirkpatrick owns Cleveland-based AKA Construction Inc., a commercial contractor that did all the renovations for the dispensaries.
She also owns 51% of Harvest of Ohio. The minority owner is Steve White, CEO of Phoenix-based Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. The publicly-traded company with dispensaries in six states provides its branding and operational expertise, but said other than White’s personal investment, the company has no ownership in Ohio.
“They’re one of the top multi-state operators,” Kirkpatrick said. “That’s why I chose them.”
The same ownership structure applies to Harvest Grows LLC, a large-scale cultivator and processor outside Ironton, which started growing on June 23. The first harvest won’t be until November. Just about every dispensary in the state sources from multiple in-state growers and processors.
Harvest has hired 15 people statewide in the past two months. When the Clintonville location opens, it will be the sixth dispensary in Columbus, by far the most of any municipality in the state. Cincinnati and Newark have three apiece.
In April the pharmacy board, which regulates dispensaries, voted to double the number of dispensaries statewide to 130. Strawberry Fields was OK’d to open in July at 2950 E. Main St.
The board and state Department of Commerce, in charge of growers and processors, in 2019 tried to revoke Harvest’s licenses, arguing that Kirkpatrick did not have true operational control as required by law.
Harvest had won its licenses in 2018 under a former provision of the state marijuana law requiring 15% of licenses go to members of economically disadvantaged groups; Kirkpatrick is Black. This also was the only type of licensee required to have majority Ohio ownership. Later a court ruling struck down the entire set-aside program as unconstitutional. The state has not commented on why it still tried to enforce the majority-Ohio provision in this case.
The case was settled in March 2020. Harvest did not admit any wrongdoing and volunteered a $500,000 donation to the state program monitoring prescription drug abuse.
“When everybody questioned my authenticity – I’ve been a successful businesswoman for many years,” Kirkpatrick said Monday after running training for new employees. “I could have given up a long time ago.”
Jones, with the company more than two years, helped handle the regulatory paperwork toward opening. He started as general manager in Beavercreek and added Clintonville when its manager quit during the pandemic. With a background in IT, he set up the company’s operating systems and software.
“I was willing to wait (for the opening) because this is something I want to be part of,” Jones said. “Ariane is the only reason I’m still here. At this point, she’s family.”
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