Medical pot dispensary hopes to move into Youngstown’s Mahoning Plaza

Inside the empty storefront in the Mahoning Plaza in Youngstown is a vault left from the banks which, for a long time, occupied the space

Mahoning Plaza, Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The discussion so far around medical marijuana in Ohio has focused on growing and processing, but somebody is also going to be selling it. If all goes as planned, by this time next year, a dispensary will be doling out medical marijuana from the Mahoning Plaza on Youngstown’s west side.

Not far from Family Dollar and next to Rent-a-Center on Mahoning Avenue is a vacant storefront that could become a medical marijuana dispensary.

“We want to be a good neighbor wherever we are. We don’t want to be a hindrance to the community,” said A.J. Caraballo, Holistic Health Partners pharmacist and partner.

Holistic Health Partners plans to apply for a license to sell medical marijuana.

It can be difficult to nail down a location for a medical marijuana dispensary.

“Finding a place to locate was a challenge,” Caraballo said. “When you find a municipality…you have to be 500 feet away from a school, a park, a childcare facility.”

Inside the empty storefront — which used to be Mahoning Bank — is a vault.

“I mean, it’s absolutely crucial. That’s where all product will be stored,” Caraballo said.

The built-in security is a big reason why this spot was picked.

“There are heavy regulations that go along with it and with heavy regulations come a pretty hefty price tag. For example, the licensing fee is $70,000,” Caraballo said.

People who run some of the stores in and around the Mahoning Plaza said that for the most part, they’re okay with a medical marijuana dispensary. They said because it’s so heavily regulated, they don’t have a problem with it moving in next door.

“I think it’s going to be a nice addition to the plaza,” said Fifth Ward Councilwoman Lauren McNally.

The dispensary will go in her ward. McNally said she’s been impressed with their openness to discuss anything.

“They have come to each individual council member, they have gone to our police force, our police chief, our head of community police, our vice squad.”

As far as the need for medical marijuana, Caraballo said it’s there. Both of his parents had cancer.

“Seeing what they went through — going through chemotherapy — it’s a grueling process. I think they definitely could have benefitted from it,” he said.

The deadline to apply for a license is next month. The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy will award the licenses in March and if all goes as planned, they’ll be dispensing it next September.

There will be two meetings open to the public next week to discuss the Mahoning Valley proposal. Caraballo will make a presentation Monday at 5 p.m. and then the planning commission will hold a hearing on Tuesday at 1:50 p.m. Both are on the sixth floor of Youngstown City Hall.

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