A Florida cannabis company is suing an Ohio grower and dispensary in a $23 million suit

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOSU) — A Florida-based medical cannabis company is suing an Ohio grower and distributor in a $23 million lawsuit filed last week in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

A leaf from a cannabis plant
A leaf from a cannabis plant [AP]
In the lawsuit filed on July 14, Trulieve subsidiary Harvest Health and Recreation of Tallahassee claims the medical cannabis distributor Harvest of Ohio and its companion growing company, Harvest Grows, failed to pay back $19,495,369 in loans.

Harvest Health writes that it financially supported Harvest of Ohio for five years and let the company use the nationally recognized name “Harvest” and its trademarks – then it delayed collecting overdue loans 16 times over the course of 10 months.

In a statement, Harvest of Ohio claims that Harvest Health interfered with its management and ability to pay the debt and added inappropriate charges by inflating expenses. The Ohio company wrote that both parties were working to restructure their relationship and address concerns when negotiations abruptly ended, and the lawsuit was filed.

Harvest of Ohio has dispensaries in Columbus, Athens and Beavercreek and the Harvest Grows marijuana cultivation facility in Ironton.

Its website notes that founder Ariane Kirkpatrick met Steve White, CEO of Harvest Health and Recreation, in 2017 and forged a partnership that included an investment from Harvest Health.

“Women in cannabis, especially women of color, often lack access and find it difficult to secure funding from institutions that provide resources in the highly regulated cannabis space,” the website reads.

Harvest of Ohio’s statement echoes that as Black-and-women-owned business, it wanted to work with Harvest Health because of that company’s pledge to support diversity, equity and inclusion.

The statement also says, “the actions of HHR and now Trulieve are undermining their pledge to DEI in a bid to gain control of the businesses built by women and people of color, kicking them to the curb.”

Harvest Health’s lawsuit says Harvest of Ohio asked for a loan in “an industry where financing is difficult to obtain,” and Harvest Health came through.

“Through all these loans, HHR financed all of Defendants’ capital expenditures and rent for each of their locations and every dollar of Defendants’ operating expenses, as well as salaries for their executives, until they were able to sustain a steady cash flow,” the lawsuit reads.

The suit alleges that Harvest of Ohio and Harvest Grows “failed to repay HHR even a single dollar,” and says the company exhausted other options for repayment before taking legal action.

It’s asking the court to award the amount of the initial loan and $4,300,973 in interest, for a total of $23,796,341.

Harvest Health parent company Trulieve recently opened its first Ohio dispensary in Columbus.