Ohio Regulators Will Appeal Decision to Open a Cleveland Dispensary Associated With Acreage Holdings
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Ohio Regulators Will Appeal Decision to Open a Cleveland Dispensary Associated With Acreage Holdings

Greenleaf Apothecaries, which opened two dispensaries earlier this year, is fighting for its third location to open.

August 28, 2019

The state of Ohio will appeal a county judge’s order to allow Greenleaf Apothecaries to open its Cleveland location, Crain’s Cleveland Business reports. As the Ohio medical cannabis market continues to stumble into being, this case provides a glimpse of how state governments are policing multistate cannabis operators’ growing reach. 

Greenleaf Apothecaries, a cannabis retail business based in Ohio and operating under Acreage Holdings’ Botanist dispensary brand, is in the middle of a licensing dispute. Earlier this summer, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy refused to issue a certificate of operations for the company’s Cleveland storefront, citing ownership issues and questioning the extent of Acreage’s involvement in the business. (In Ohio, licensed cannabis businesses may not sell or transfer ownership rights until they’ve been up and running for a full year.)

Documents that would clear up the ownership question have yet to be released as public records. Acreage has insisted that the release of those records could be damaging to corporate trade secrets.

On Aug. 23, a Cuyahoga County judge ordered the state to issue that certificate of operations and allow Greenleaf to open its Cleveland shop—which would be its third location in the state. Already, certificates had been issued to Greenleaf stores in nearby Wickliffe and Canton; Greenleaf also holds provisional retail licenses in Akron and Columbus, as well as cultivation and processing licenses.

“We were very happy to learn of the court’s ruling, and we thank the court for its thoughtful and fair consideration of the issues presented to it,” Kate Nelson, chief operating officer of Greenleaf Apothecaries, said in a public statement. “We can’t wait to begin serving patients at our state-of-the-art dispensary, located at 3865 Lakeside Ave. in Cleveland.”

With the state’s appeal, however, Greenleaf will not be opening its doors in Cleveland just yet.

The civil case is part of a broader narrative in Ohio and other, newer medical cannabis markets: How should state regulators manage the growing reach of multi-state cannabis operations, when a political undercurrent of cannabis reform has been (and continues to be) local business development and job growth?

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Jackie Borchardt has reported on the increased scrutiny that Ohio regulators have focused on companies like Acreage Holdings and Harvest Health & Recreation, two out-of-state conglomerates that have found opportunities in Ohio to add to growing portfolios. 

Harvest of Ohio LLC had applied as an economically disadvantaged group, but corporate documents and subsequent regulatory investigations have shown that Harvest CEO Steve White oversees the actual management duties of a traditional CEO at a company, as the Enquirer reported. In its application materials, the company had identified Ariane Kirkpatrick, a black woman, as the president of Harvest’s operations in Ohio. The state is working with Harvest to determine the nature of this disagreement; its three dispensary licenses (rooted in Columbus, Athens and suburban Dayton) are presently “on hold.”