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Medical marijuana company grows

YOUNGSTOWN — The single medical marijuana grow facility in Trumbull and Mahoning counties will add 5,000 more square feet, a build out that doubles capacity at the Youngstown warehouse turned horticultural space.

Riviera Creek LLC also has introduced a new product line under affiliate business Amalfi, which provides single-dose marijuana sticks and vaporizer for vaping, one of the approved methods in Ohio to injest medical marijuana.

The sticks and devices launched last week at the two medical marijuana dispensaries in the Mahoning Valley — gLeaf Medical Cannabis on Youngstown Road SE, Warren, and Leaf Relief on Market Street in Boardman.

Daniel Kessler, CEO of Riviera Creek, said the expansion allows the company to keep pace with market demand, which has grown consistently since medical marijuana became legal in Ohio. The growth, he said, has matched the companies expectations, so the expansion was planned early to accommodate the expected increase in demand.

Riviera Creek was among the initial dozen level one, or large scale, growers in the state to be licensed by the Ohio Department of Commerce. The Crescent Street company received its certificate to operate in late 2018 and started operating in January 2019.

The license allows Riviera Creek to grow in up to 25,000 square feet of space for now. It’s already written in the law that large scale growers can expand to 75,000 square feet but only when the state deems appropriate, and that hasn’t happened yet, nor is it know when it might.

The company is using 5,000 square feet already with the expansion taking the grow area to 10,000 square feet, plus a second mothering room, where mother plants are grown to secure clones or stock that are grown to full-flowering plants.

“What mothering allows us to do is basically not only increase overall capacity of the number of clones we can get to provide plant stock for the rest of our growth, but it also allows to grow the number of strains, or cultivars that we have which allows a little bit more of a product mix,” Kessler said.

The company grows four varieties of medical marijuana: Volney, Wildcat, Stambaugh and Gypsy, all names that pay homage to the area’s rich history.

“They are designed to be reflective and proud of the heritage of our community,” said Brian Kessler, board chairman for Riviera Creek.

All four are grown in tightly controlled conditions with only water, nutrients, light and air.

Stambaugh has, though, outperformed the other strains, so much so Brian Kessler said the company has increased its capacity nearly 10 times since the company started growing.

“It’s the highest producing product in the state and probably maybe some of the highest quality product in the country,” Brian Kessler said.

Why? Consistency, he said.

“My whole thing was always about I want cannabis to be like Tylenol, so every time you get it, you know what is going to happen … it’s not Tylenol for sure, but when patients go and get Stambaugh, there is some comfort that they have a pretty good stability that the last time they used the Stambaugh, they are going to get the same effect to help them sleep, help them with pain management,” Brian Kessler said.

That consistency and demand for Stambaugh is why Riviera Creek is using it with the launch of Amalfi, he said.

Amalfi, run by Brian Kessler’s daughter, Sophia Kessler, president, has been in development for about three years, from fine tuning the portable vaporizer with producers in China to working with U.S. suppliers on the material for the sticks.

The sticks are made from a noncombustible material, ” so if you would try to light it like a little mini joint, it self-extinguishes,” said Brian Kessler. “So it’s designed not to be able to be turned into a joint.”

Smoking medical marijuana is not one of the legal ways to injest it in Ohio.

Sophia Kessler said the first purchase of the Amalfi pack comes with the battery-powered device and two packs of filtered sticks. It also contains a USB charger. The vaporizer, she said, contains a ceramic blade to penetrate the sticks that is super heated to evenly vaporize the marijuana.

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