JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF)- Today marks the one year anniversary of medical marijuana sale in Ohio. 4 dispensaries opened on the first day of the program just one year ago, and only one of them was small and locally owned, and it is right here in the Ohio Valley!
Ohio Valley Natural Relief (OVNR) in Wintersville provides alternative medicine to countless patients. A lot of preparation went into its opening, and despite many obstacles at first, business is good for this pioneering industry. The owner tells me education is key to making a decision- whether for or against- and that the stigma of medical marijuana is fading away.
In 2016, Mike Petrella’s father was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, passing away 2 months after diagnosis. Petrella was overcome by the suffering his father had to endure and wanted a better way to alleviate pain. This is when his journey began.
Petrella, the Owner and CEO of Ohio Valley Natural Relief, LLC, told 7News “I started to dig a little deeper, went to Colorado, spent 5 days out there, learned the industry from cultivation, processing, dispensaries, visited dozens of dispensaries to try to learn the business from the ground up.”
OVNR has helped thousands of patients, averaging 20-30 per day.
Petrella said “on day one we had people from all over the state of Ohio again there was only 4 of us open we had people hours away and even to this day some of those relationships that we built with those patients they feel the most comfortable coming here with our staff so they still drive at least 3 hours away to come and see us.”
Yes, patients are often skeptical and afraid at first. But, an exemplary staff covers all of the bases, making their patients completely comfortable with their products.
Petrella added “for 2020 we see our sales probably doubling and as a state we see the patient count where it’s at 80,000 patients registered we see that number as a statewide hopefully jumping to 200,000 patients by the end of 2020 so it will only benefit owners and obviously patients because it will drive the price down as well.”
At 28 years old, Mike Petrella is one of the youngest owners and one of the only single-sole proprietors of a dispensary in the entire nation. Featured in Marijuana Venture Magazine’s 40 under 40, Petrella was humbled by the honor, but more importantly, the community is highlighted on a national stage. Petrella said “anytime you can shine a positive light on your local community on a national level, on state level, on a local level, it’s been great for everyone involved especially for the community of Wintersville.”
Everything is based on qualifying health conditions. Safety and compliance come first. And nobody walks into the actual dispensary without their official medical cards. Even our 7News reporter had to give a drivers license to enter the lobby.
Lastly, Petrella added, “we just really look forward to keep helping as many people as we can, educating people trying to get them to understand what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, how much it’s going to actually help. And at least come talk to us before you make a judgement on medical marijuana.”
Here’s how Ohio is doing compared to other states: