New Wyandot Co. marijuana dispensary to reduce patient travel time


Wyandot Co. shop is one of 70 in Ohio allowed in second wave of licensing

Just south of the intersection of U.S. 23 and U.S. 30 in rural Wyandot County, workers have nearly finished one of Ohio’s newest medical marijuana dispensaries.

The new shop at 17043 County Highway 113 in Harpster will severely reduce driving time for medical marijuana patients along the Lincoln Highway corridor, according to Michele Minehart, the Ohio Cannabis Company location’s manager.

The store will legally sell registered patients all forms of marijuana, except the smokable kind, which is not legal under Ohio’s medical marijuana laws.

“We will have edibles, chocolates, gummies, things like that, things that taste good,” Minehart said. “Those are really great for folks who need pain control or they need to feel the effects over a longer amount of time because they last a little longer.”

Tinctures and vaporizers will also be sold from the Wyandot County store.

The grand opening is tentatively scheduled for March 23, but that is subject to change.

Number of Ohio dispensaries doubled

The dispensary is part of the state’s second wave of such marijuana shops allowed to open in the Buckeye State.

The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program approved 70 dispensaries to open in 2019 when medical cannabis became legal. Then, in May of 2022, they doubled the number of licenses by offering 70 more.

Regulators broke the state into sections based on population. One of those districts consists of Crawford, Marion, Wyandot and Hardin counties.

That area’s first pot shop opened in Marion in October of 2019. Two years later, companies were putting their name into a hat to be selected for the lucky rights to open a second store.

“It was a lottery style,” Minehart said. “The lottery commission ran it.”

The team at Ohio Cannabis Company won. They were allowed to open their doors anywhere in the four-county area. They chose a corn field near Upper Sandusky.

Location will reduce patient driving time

Ohio Cannabis Company was formed five years ago by Brian Wingfield and Cindy Bradford. Their first store was in Coshocton. They sold it last year to raise money to open three more: one in Canton, one in Piqua, and the one just outside Upper Sandusky.

They purchase the cannabis from a number of cultivators, process it at a separate facility in Coshocton, then sell it either to other dispensaries or to patients through their own dispensaries.

The dispensary in Wyandot County is one of the state’s most rural, as its location was designed to cut down driving time for patients. The new shop will be between the stores in Fremont to the north and Marion to the south, then Lima to the west and Canton to the east.

“There’s not a lot of dispensaries here,” Wingfield said.

The location made construction a bit of a challenge.

“This was a a corn field,” Wingfield said. “There were a few other problems we ran into is like getting internet here and getting power here… we had to run, you know, all that infrastructure.”

‘The patient is 100% in control’

The process starts for new patients with a visit to a qualifying doctor.

“Not just any physician,” Minehart said. “There’s only certain physicians in Ohio that are licensed to offer this recommendation.”

Details on how to find the right doctor are available online through the state’s website on medical marijuana: medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov.

“One of the primary qualifying conditions is chronic pain,” Minehart said. “Cancer is in there.”

Once patients have their medical marijuana card, they can visit any dispensary in Ohio. Their doctors may make recommendations on what cannabis products a person takes, but it’s left up to the individuals.

The options are explained when newcomers arrive at the dispensary for the first time.

“But we don’t make those decisions for them,” Minehart said. “The patient is 100% in control of their method that they decide to use.”

‘It’s a medical program’

The new store has opened a fresh career opportunity for Minehart, who is an Upper Sandusky native and Wingfield’s cousin.

“I’m new to the industry,” Minehart said. “I’ve been in wellness for a while. I own a yoga studio in Upper Sandusky.”

She likes the field because it heals patients in ways similar to the other natural methods she has taught them over the years.

“It’s a medical program so it is helping,” Minehart said. “It’s designed for people who are living in a lot of pain to be able to live a little bit more freely and so it just aligns with what I think is important.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by the company’s founder. He may have started the business to earn a living, but quickly realized what it meant to the patients.

“People come in and tell you their lives are better because of what you’ve done, because you’re helping them out,” Wingfield said. “I really enjoy that.”

Still not legal on federal level

There is a drawback, though. The business may be acceptable to Ohio’s government, but it breaks federal law. That’s why patients must pay with cash, and may not use insurance or health savings.

It’s also why universities and research hospitals are not yet giving medical marijuana their full attention — they don’t want to jeopardize their federal funding.

“Until we reclassify it,” Wingfield said. “Time will tell. I think eventually we will have this change. The question is, you know, is it going to be a couple of years or is it going to be five?”

ztuggle@gannett.com

419-564-3508

Twitter: @zachtuggle

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