Dispensary owner, state lawmakers call for more diversity in the medical marijuana industry – News 5 Cleveland
CLEVELAND — 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.
When medical marijuana was first legalized, the state said 15% of all dispensary licenses must go to minorities. But in 2019, the Madison County Court of Common Pleas struck down that quota saying there was no proof of discrimination or prejudice in the cannabis industry.
“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