Ohio’s faced a number of challenges trying to implement its medical cannabis program. But businesses are finally starting to bloom. In Nov. 2017, Riviera Creek, a Youngstown-based cultivation group, received a medical cannabis business license from the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Board. As of late September, they secured a Certificate of Operation from the state to grow medical marijuana and expect to have product by the end of Jan. 2019.
Along with being one of the first to procure a cultivation license in Ohio, Riviera Creek is utilizing science to power their grow. Their facility operates using wireless communication, tablet controllers, high definition cameras, and robotics. They’re also using technology to create positive pressurized rooms and pristine growing environments.
“We designed everything from the rooms to the equipment [the plants are] being grown on to intricate monitoring and feeding systems in the facility,” says Brian Kessler, Riviera Creek’s Chairman of the Board. “We put in place as many controls as possible, every step of the way, to give us the ability to deliver the product we want.”
Riviera Creek uses an aeroponics system that suspends the plants in the air while the roots to hang. Doing this allows for direct application of nutrients to the roots, yielding a heightened level of technical control over the plant. Combined with the strategic technology that sustains their operation, the team at Riviera Creek is able to glean data from every phase of the growing process.
Because of the information they’re able to gather, the Youngstown company also plans to work with renowned institutions performing clinical studies defining and discovering aspects of the plant that address and treat illnesses. They also hope to spearhead medical explorations in the greater Ohio community.
“We do this so we can provide a trail of information to the consumer,” says Brian, who comes from a lineage of inventors, including the man who patented the hula-hoop. “Whether it’s the first time they’ve tried the product or after five years of using it, we want our patients to have comfort knowing that the information we’ve provided to them is accurate.”
The goal for Riviera Creek is to deliver products with the same consistency as household brand name over-the counter medicines. Think Tylenol, for instance. From packaging to the product itself, everything about Tylenol is consistent and identical. Brian and his nephew Daniel Kessler, the CEO of Riviera Creek, want to remove the uncertainty and fear that comes with using cannabis due to lack of consistency.
Their high-tech facility was ranked one of the highest by Ohio’s Department of Commerce, according to a statement. And, although their profound use of technology is fascinating, the company also supports providing jobs to students. Riviera Creek employs graduating students from the Cleveland School of Cannabis—the only state approved career school for cannabis education east of Colorado.
“The school started almost two years ago,” says Sam Brenkus, Riviera Creek’s head cultivator, who also has a Biology degree from Kent State. “[The school] starts with a medical applications program, which talks about the endocannabinoid system and bunch of different medical applications. Then there’s a business program, which teaches people how to run businesses in the cannabis space; and then there’s a horticulture program.”
Brenkus explains that the Cleveland School of Cannabis does well at getting students ready for the industry. He also notes there’s been a significant spike in job opportunities in Ohio because of cannabis. “It’s creating jobs, which is what’s so fascinating about the movement here. It creates jobs, tech space, and [cannabis is] a really safe product.”
Riviera Creek’s vision expands deeper into the realm of science, research, and technology, Brian explains. But it’s going to take a while to put everything in motion. But as for providing cannabis patients with quality medicine in Ohio, Riviera Creek is on it.
“We’ve been committed to the Ohio market for the last six years,” says Brian. “And we’re thrilled to lead the field by setting the bar high in terms of consistent and quality product, and helping patients in need.”