Marijuana dispensary opens in East Liverpool

OPEN FOR BUSINESS — The ribbon was cut Thursday, opening the FRXHealth medical marijuana dispensary on Dresden Avenue in East Liverpool. Among those on han were, from left, Joe Jeffries, pharmaceutical director; Mayor Ryan Stovall; Rebecca Myers, chief executive officer; and Paul Crowder, vice president of operations. In addition to bringing the science, health care and innovation of the medical marijuana industry to the community, and partnering with a number of prestigious universities and hospitals, Myers said the company is bringing economic development to the community. -- Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert

EAST LIVERPOOL– A dream became a reality Thursday for Rebecca Myers, chief executive officer of FRXHealth, with the opening of the company’s medical marijuana dispensary at 1865 Dresden Ave.

Addressing a crowd of city officials and others at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new enterprise, Myers said it was “a really exciting day,” saying she first had a dream seven years ago to start a company that studied the therapeutic properties of marijuana, saying, “Today, that dream is being realized.”

In addition to bringing the science, health care and innovation of the medical marijuana industry to the community, and partnering with a number of prestigious universities and hospitals, Myers said the company is bringing economic development to the community.

Local contractors and architects were hired to renovate and add onto an existing building to design the 3,000-square-foot dispensary, and Myers said the pharmacy employees who lost jobs when the local Kmart recently closed have found jobs with the new dispensary.

In addition, the company is in the bidding phase for renovating the former Ferro Corp. building on Harvey Avenue into a 110.000-square-foot medical marijuana cultivation and processing facility.

Myers thanked city officials for their efforts in making the project a reality, saying when FRX began looking for a site in Ohio, Mayor Ryan Stovall and Safety-Service Director Brian Allen reached out.

“East Liverpool found us. We received a call from Ryan and Brian. The support from this community has been overwhelming. From the bottom of my heart, I express my gratitude,” Myers said during the ceremony Thursday morning.

She said FRX is “so excited to serve East Liverpool and the surrounding area in Ohio,” adding, “We’re going to serve a lot of patients from this site.”

Stovall said the city is “happy to be part of it,” and said it “all started with a phone call.”

He said, “It’s a new thing to Ohio, and we wanted to be part of it. We have a great team,” pointing out the city council members, city auditor and even the police chief in attendance at Thursday’s opening.

“We’re all on board,” Stovall said, adding, “I can’t wait until they do the same thing with the Ferro building which has been shuttered for 20 years.”

The dispenary is the latest to open in our region. In January, the first legal sale of medical marijuana was made at CY-Plus on Main Street in Wintersville. The village also is home to a second dispensary, Ohio Valley Natural Relief LLC, located on Canton Road.

Later, Stovall said it is estimated FRX will earn upwards of $100 million annually on the cultivation, processing an sale of medical marijuana, which would equate to about $1.5 million to the city in income tax revenue.

The project is expected to bring as many as 100 jobs to the city once the cultivation and processing operation is up and running.

About 100 patients were expected to be served on the dispensary’s first day, and the first one in line was Danny Scott of Youngstown, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder from having been shot as a teenager.

Scott was prescribed a high dose of Xanax for the PTSD, taking 2 mg four times per day, and he said, “I didn’t like the way it made me feel. I couldn’t even go outside.”

Having smoked marijuana, Scott knew it helped him cope with his disorder, and he was traveling as far as Michigan to obtain medical marijuana before hearing about the FRX opening.

“I tried to leave at 8 a.m. today (to get to the dispensary),” he smiled, adding, “I’m really blessed to have this opportunity today.”

Saying he doesn’t like taking medications due to the side effects, Scott said the only side effects he has experienced from marijuana is being sleepy and hungry but said, “It calms me down and makes me feel more comfortable.”

Having also broken his back, Scott said the medical marijuana also helps relax his back muscles.

Like other patients, Scott received a card from an approved physician stating he is authorized to be treated with medical marijuana,which he brought Thursday to the dispensary.

Inside, he said, he expected to have the pharmacist or pharmacy technicians determine the dosage he will be using.

The method initially being offered the new dispensary are flowers that are placed into a small machine and then smoked in a vape,all of which are available for purchase at the dispensary, Scott said.

“You just inhale, and you’re good,” he said.

His girlfriend, Kayla Carr, accompanied Scott, along with his nephew Scott Wheaton, both of whom attested to how the medical marijuana helps his condition.

FXR pharmaceutical director Joe Jeffries said during the ribbon cutting he is a third generation pharmacist and that FRX shares the same philosophy he was taught by his father and grandfather: to help people.

He said the company wants to work with physicians to help stop the opioid crisis with the assistance of medical marijuana.

Carr, who is recovering from an opioid addiction, said smoking some of Scott’s marijuana has helped her in her recovery efforts.

“I think (medical marijuana) gets a bad rap, but people need to learn a lot about it,” Carr said.