The sign over Clintonville's medical-marijuana dispensary has been up for months, but its interior remains dark as the shop's parent company wrangles over the granting of licenses to operate in Ohio.
Harvest of Ohio, 2950 N. High St., has not been granted a certificate of operation, said Ali Simon, public- and policy-affairs liaison with the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
Harvest initially received three provisional dispensary permits, but the certificates of operation -- one of the final approvals required before it may open its doors -- have not yet been granted, said Alex Howe, Harvest Health and Recreation Inc. head of corporate communications.
Assuring that Harvest of Ohio and Harvest Grows LLC -- Arizona-based Harvest Health and Recreation Inc.'s Ohio affiliates seeking to grow and sell medical marijuana -- both meet the state's "economically disadvantaged group" criteria is at the center of the holdup.
Ohio law concerning medical-marijuana cultivation and dispensing requires that some licenses be awarded to companies that are owned and operated by one of several economically disadvantaged groups.
"The Ohio Department of Commerce is currently negotiating with Harvest to ensure they meet the spirit and intent of the EDG program, which was a primary basis for the department's award of a provisional license to Harvest," said Kelly Whitaker, public-information officer for the Ohio Department of Commerce.
In addition, a court case has been filed in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in which Harvest seeks to block the release by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy of what it believes is protected information.
Hearings in that case are set for March 5, 6 and 9.
Because of a court order in the case, the board of pharmacy is barred from commenting on it, Simon said.
Howe also declined to offer specifics.
"Harvest of Ohio and Harvest Grows have been working closely with the department of commerce and (pharmacy board) to finalize an agreement, and we have every reason to believe we will successfully resolve any outstanding questions that surround the dispensary and cultivation permits our affiliates have been granted, which will allow us to open our facilities and begin serving the patients of Ohio," Howe said.
The Clintonville dispensary, at the former site of the Crestview Market, is one of three dispensaries Harvest intends to open in Ohio, officials said.
Several other Columbus dispensaries have opened since they were legalized statewide in 2016; the first, Terrasana, began serving customers last spring on Grandview Avenue.
Ohioans may consume marijuana and marijuana products if they receive a recommendation from a doctor.
To receive a recommendation, patients must have at least one of 21 conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Harvest's discussions with the department of commerce and the board of pharmacy are independent of one another, Simon said.
"We are excited to begin serving Ohio patients with high-quality products and unique retail experiences, pending ongoing conversations with the Department of Commerce and Department of Pharmacy and final inspections," Howe said.