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Businesses seek to work with Ohio medical marijuana

As Ohio starts to announce the winners of its first medical marijuana licenses in the state, businesses are flocking to work with the state’s future cultivators and dispensaries.

A recruiter that specializes in hiring for cannabis businesses, real estate agents and a professional development association are among those seeing dollar signs with Ohio’s new marijuana industry.

The first licenses were issued Nov. 3 for small cultivators while licenses for large cultivators and dispensaries have yet to be issued. The state’s medical marijuana program is scheduled to be operational by September 2018.

RELATED: Ohio to buy $6 million seed-to-sale marijuana tracking system

Cannabis has had big economic impact in other states whether its fully legalized or only available with a doctor’s recommendation.

An industry consultant reported in Colorado the booming legal marijuana industry had a $2.39 billion impact in 2015, creating 18,005 jobs. In Maine, where medical marijuana is legal, residents spent about $25 million on medical pot in 2016.

James Yagielo, chief executive at HempStaff, a Florida recruitment firm, is already gearing up for a presence in Ohio, predicting there will be about 1,000 people directly employed by the industry once the businesses can operate.

MAP: Where medical marijuana could be grown in Ohio

The company, founded in 2014, specializes in recruiting for the cannabis sector and sees opportunity helping businesses in Ohio who will be unlikely to find workers with dispensary experience. For an entry level dispensary agent, he said a business on average gets 200 resumes that it needs to sort through and find the right employee that won’t be a liability in a highly regulated industry.

Yagielo declined to give revenue figures but said the recruitment business has taken off in tangent with more states legalizing some form of marijuana.

“We’ve doubled net revenue from 2016 to 2017 and we expect to to do the same in 2018,” he said.

RELATED: Olympian, whiskey heir among those trying to grow medical pot in Ohio

Additionally, a fast-growing professional development association called Women Grow, based in Denver, just branched into Ohio with an October launch event and a Columbus training held Thursday on launching a dispensary.

The for-profit association states its goal is to educate and empower women with networking events and conferences “building a diverse, fair cannabis industry.” It has 35 chapters in the U.S. and Canada with more planned to start this year.

While the medical marijuana program won’t be operational in Ohio for almost a year, the real estate business is already seeing frenzy of prospective license holders looking for buildings.

Ric Moody, managing broker of Coldwell Banker Commercial Heritage, said there was a burst of prospective cultivators leading up to June 30 when the applications were due and now there’s a rush of prospective dispensaries looking to make their application deadline.

RELATED: New rules set for medical marijuana use in Ohio

While cultivators were still in the hunt for real estate, Moody said he worked with investors flying in from New York, Colorado and Kentucky, as well as many investors from Columbus and Cincinnati. The prospective dispensary owners are now racing to find a property in a community that hasn’t banned marijuana businesses and also get all their documents like architectural drawings in to complete their applications.

“Now it’s the dispensary people who are in a panic. I get calls and texts at night and on the weekend because they’re all under the gun,” he said.

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