Ohio’s medical marijuana industry has spawned dozens of growers, dispensaries and processors, and while those businesses receive the most attention, an entire industry of ancillary companies have also sprung up.
Many work nationwide but a few operate only in Ohio. Some formed to fill an obvious need; others offer more esoteric services.
The Medina-based Ediybles is the latter. L.A. Dawson founded the company to teach medicinal cannabis users how to cook THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) and CBD (a cannabis extract without the intoxicating effects) into food.
“Edibles at the dispensary are pretty expensive and you get a limited number,” Dawson said. “If you’re able to do it at home, you’re able to save some money, and you can customize your dosage.”
The company also offers storage products to help parents keep marijuana out of the reach of children.
Ediybles was incorporated four years ago, but Dawson said she didn’t quit her day job to focus on the company full time until a year ago.
Hypur, on the other hand, provides a familiar service that eludes many medical marijuana users. Lending institutions like banks are reluctant to work with cannabis companies because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, meaning marijuana companies must go without credit services or pay higher fees to the few institutions willing to work with them.
“The branded credit card networks are opposed to any cannabis transactions,” said Hypur Chief Revenue Officer Tyler Beuerlein.
As a result, most dispensaries only accept cash. But the Arizona-based Hypur offers an alternative, acting like Venmo or Paypal for dispensaries. A smartphone app links to a patient’s checking account, and they use a four-digit code after dispensary employees collect their information.
It’s unclear how many Ohio dispensaries use Hypur. Some shun the service over high fees and privacy concerns. Beuerlein emphasized that Wright Patt Credit Union handles all transactions. Wright Patt provides banking services to cannabis companies.
Credit services also charge higher rates to marijuana companies, assuming they’re taking on higher risk.
The California-based Green Flower Media arose to educate people on the intricacies of cannabis. The conflicts between federal and state law confound entrepreneurs, police and local elected officials, and Green Flower CEO Max Simon said he started the company to fill the knowledge gap.
“We currently have programs for people in agriculture, the investment sector, and a lot of programs for doctors and people in the medical sector,” Simon said.
The courses aimed at law enforcement have garnered the most media attention. The company’s law enforcement courses were written with input from Port Hueneme, California, Police Chief Andrew Salinas.
California legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, and municipalities still struggle to balance concerns over the drug with the change in state law.
The police chief said his expertise comes from visiting cannabis-friendly communities to better develop a program for Port Hueneme.
“I wanted to customize something best suited for our community,” Salinas said.
Success has eluded some ancillary businesses. Robin Ann Morris now regrets founding the cannabis staffing company Mary Jane Agency to serve Ohio’s medicinal marijuana businesses.
Morris moved to Ohio from Colorado in 2015 after learning that Ohio was on the verge of legalizing medicinal cannabis. But she said her business has been stymied by the program’s comparatively slow roll out. While most of the proposed dispensaries are open, only 15 of the 43 licensed dispensaries are open, and 20 of the 29 licensed processors are up and running.
Morris has found success staffing marijuana conferences, “but there are only like three a year,” she said.