Dispensary owner, state lawmakers call for more diversity in the medical marijuana industry

Twitter icon
marijuana plant

Ohio is preparing to double the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. The hope is to alleviate some of the problems with the relatively new industry, including travel distance, price, and supply.

But there are some concerns about who will receive these new licenses.

Ariane Kirkpatrick is the owner of Ohio's first Black-owned dispensary. She says the accomplishment is bittersweet.

She owns Harvest of Ohio—with three locations in Athens, Beavercreek and Columbus.

“It’s like an oxymoron to be the first because this is 2021, so to be the first in this industry, an industry that has so many roots in the minority community, just doesn’t settle well with my stomach," Kirkpatrick said.

According to Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy, just eight the state's 58 dispensaries are minority owned.

“There’s some type of systemic and structural racism that has happened, that we need to recognize, and we need to make corrections so we can be part of it, we need to make sure that diversity, equity and inclusion is in this industry,” Kirkpatrick said.

And that was the reason behind State Representative Juanita Brent's news conference today.

As the state plans to award 73 new dispensary licenses, some lawmakers are calling for the state to do a disparity study to uncover what Brent and her colleagues call an obvious systemic issue.

“Two years later. There's no predicate study. There's no disparity study. This is something that we could have done, but we didn't do,” State Rep Thomas West said.

Lawmakers explained that the fees, the need to find capital, and overall education keeps many minorities away from owning dispensaries. And they're hoping the state addresses those limitations.

As far as where the new dispensaries will open? Cuyahoga County is set to get seven more licenses. Summit County will get two, while Lake, Geauga and Portage Counties will get three.

e-mail icon Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Reddit icon
Rate this article: 
Article category: 
Regional Marijuana News: