New pot business

Firm may spend up to $1 million in Trumbull County

WARREN — The Maryland-based company awarded a provisional permit to sell medical marijuana in the Trumbull County region expects to spend between $900,000 and $1 million on the project.

Green Leaf Medical LLC has operated in Maryland for nearly four years and is expanding in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and Puerto Rico.

The provisional dispensary license awarded earlier this week by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy will allow the company to get an initial foothold in the state to provide medical marijuana to patients needing pain relief .

Philip Goldberg, who in 2014 founded the company with his brother, Kevin, said Warren’s new dispensary, 2932 Youngstown Road SE, will have the look of an Apple Store, a Starbucks and a pharmacy. The dispensary will be Green Leaf’s first Ohio facility.

The building was formerly the office of an opthalmologist and is across the road from the Trumbull County Board of Elections. It is owned by Loon Family LLC, which purchased the property in November 2014 for $190,000. The owners are one of Green Leaf’s 130 investors.

“We want to have a warm and inviting store where customers will feel relaxed and comfortable, allowing them to ask whatever questions they have about their physician prescribed pain relievers,” Philip Goldberg, the company’s chief executive officer, said. “The people coming into our dispensary will not be hippies, but elderly people dealing with pain, people in wheelchairs and those who have some type of muscular condition, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The Goldbergs started in the cannabis business shortly after Maryland passed a law allowing marijuana to legally be used for the treatment of pain.

“In 2013, I saw going into medical marijuana as a good opportunity,” Phillip Goldberg said. “We began lobbying health care providers and working on the best regulations for patients, health care providers and those in the industry.”

Philip, an entrepreneur, and Kevin, a lawyer, began working together to get into the business while the medical marijuana law still was in its early stages. Initially the company began cultivation of marijuana and processing it for medical uses. It expanded by dispensing the prescription drugs.

Ohio’s law passed in 2016 and the state is one of 29 states permitting the medical use of marijuana, according to the National Council on State Legislatures.

“We expect to invest about $400,000 in retrofitting the building and the remainder will be used in hiring employees and having a cash reserve during the period the company is growing,” Philip Goldberg said. “We’re going to gut the building’s interior.”

Upgrades on the building have not yet begun.

“We still need to obtain some permits,” he said. “We are hoping to start within the next several weeks.”

The building is expected to be ready to operate in a four-to-six-month timeframe.

Green Leaf also bid to open a dispensary in a suburb of Cleveland, but failed to obtain that license by a few points. Philip Goldberg also said the company sought to obtain a cultivation license in Ohio, but failed to make the final cut.

Once the dispensary is up and running, it will have 12 to 15 employees. However, Goldberg said the speed at which it ramps up will depend entirely on the acceptance of use of medical marijuana by physicians who will write the prescriptions required for patients to pick up the products.

“We will have a licensed pharmacist overseeing pharmacy agents,” Goldberg said. “The agents will track the effects of the medical marijuana on patients.”

“People think this is a fast growing business, but it is not,” he said. “Generally, however, states have been slow in their ramp up.”

The company hopes to get licenses for the cultivation and processing of cannabis in Ohio.

“Cultivation and processing is really our expertise,” he said. “Those are the largest portions of our business.”

Goldberg described the company being the number one ranked cultivators in Pennsylvania and Maryland.