Harvest of Athens, the first medical marijuana dispensary in the city, held its grand opening Monday morning.
The location is one of three Harvest of Ohio locations, with others in Columbus and Beavercreek. The Athens location held a soft opening Sept. 15.
Harvest of Ohio was licensed in 2017 and opened its first location approximately three years later. The company is patient-oriented and philanthropic, with the goal of “giving people real control over their health and wellness through access to quality products, education, resources, and support,” according to its website.
Inside, Harvest of Athens hosts a check-in lobby and product floor, which is only accessible to patients. Products for sale include vaporizers, topical ointments, edibles, concentrates and flower, with various strains available. Products are also available on their website.
A patient advisor tends to customers at all times, helping assess individual needs and recommend products to meet them. A separate room exists for those who want to discuss their needs in a more private setting.
“We are very, very people-oriented, we're very conversational in our training,“ Amonica Davis, Chief Operations Officer for Harvest of Ohio, said. “We talk a lot about getting to know our patients on a more personal level in terms of what brings them into our store and just sharing our story, and listening to their story. Ours is not a clinic, it's more of a place of encouragement, advisement, and helping to meet the needs of our patients.”
Majority owner and Chief Executive Officer Ariane Kirkpatrick is the first owner of a vertically-integrated cannabis company in Ohio, which means the business controls all aspects of the production and distribution process. This includes a cultivation center and processing facility, in addition to the dispensaries.
Harvest’s cultivation center in Ironton reopened June 30. The company expects its first harvest at the end of December. Currently, their dispensaries sell cannabis products from 11 vendors across the state.
The dispensary is the 56th to open in Ohio since marijuana was legalized for medical use on a state level in 2018. However, Kirkpatrick is the first minority female to be licensed by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy to grow, dispense and process medical marijuana.
“I had to stay in this fight, because I care about people,” Kirkpatrick said. “I care about the patients that we are going to serve. I care about being right here in Athens, Ohio, Columbus and Beavercreek. This is a market that I can and should be in. It’s representative of our community,’”
Medical marijuana is legal in Ohio for people with conditions such as cancer, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Tourette Syndrome and more, according to Ohio’s Marijuana Card website. Individuals must have a state-issued medical marijuana card to purchase products.
“I've been deeply involved in trying to make sure that Athens does become a home to a dispensary, which is so needed in our region,” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said. “It’s so needed not just here in Athens County, it is needed in the entire southeast Ohio region.”
Prior to the opening of Harvest Athens, the closest dispensary was located in Logan, about a 30 minute drive from Athens.
“There's lots of local doctors here that have prescribed treatment for their patients and so they were very appreciative that they can come right next door – within 5 (or) 10 minutes – to receive their products, their medicines,” Davis said.
Local customer Dave Neal is a caregiver for his wife, who has cancer and uses medicinal marijuana to ease pain. Neal expressed his excitement at the opening of a local dispensary so he does not have to travel so far to obtain products.
“We all drive to Logan, Marietta or Jackson … This is so much more convenient, because I live, literally, five minutes from here,” Neal said.