Why Andrew Rayburn, founder of Buckeye Relief is optimistic about Ohio’s medical marijuana industry

Andrew Rayburn is the founder and CEO of Buckeye Relief, Ohio’s first large-scale cultivation facility to have the first harvest after receiving the highest score in the state’s competitive licensing process. With 62 employees, the Eastlake-based company is finding ways to improve, from more efficient cultivation to smoother shipping methods. Since receiving its certification in July of 2018, and immediately opening for operations, the company has reported 20 harvests, the addition of oil-based product processing and a year full of improvements. Buckeye Relief now uses extraction processes to retrieve THC and CBD oil from marijuana plants, which can then be infused into edible, topical and vaping products.

What’s the most rewarding part of your first year ? Watching us go from pure startup mode to figuring out a whole lot of things. We had to organize and get better. Now we’re doing a lot of things really well. I’m really excited that our sales team has managed to get our products in every dispensary in the state, with both flower and Wana gummies. We offer chocolates, strain-specific vape pens and our BR live resin. It’s an artisinal product for high quality vapor medication. We flash-freeze a freshly harvested plant and extract the whole-plant resin at subzero temperatures
One of the other big rewards is the overwhelming positive response about our products from patients across Ohio.

What’s the biggest surprises? We get surprises almost every day. It’s a very complicated business. We’re introducing more and more new products and we will be doing that a lot this year. Each new product comes with a set of unlimited surprises. We end up with remarkably excellent product quality because of the care of our whole team.

What are you looking froward to in 2020? I am looking forward to helping us improve in all areas. I am also eager to see a bunch more of our team members move up in the company, which is what we saw happen in 2019. As we grow rapidly, new opportunities keep presenting themselves.

There’s a common thread about the people that work here. They are excited to be in a brand new industry for Ohio. It’s an industry that is growing rapidly and changing rapidly. We provide al of the training, but you have to believe in the medicine. A lot of our employees are also patients in the program.

When did you add processing? In July we started making WANA gummies, a brand that we license. We added our chocolates. We have two representatives here now making sure its made correctly. We license the product because you can’t ship THC across the United States.

Do you travel in Ohio much since opening this cultivation facility? So far, there are 48 dispensaries throughout the state, and they’re located from each tip of the state, from the West Virginia border to the Indiana border. I travel with the sales director to dispensaries every two weeks. I’ll hit all 48 of the dispensaries this year….I’m all about running a company that is patient-focused and customer-focused. I learn something every time I go somewhere. I respect patient’s privacy so I learn mostly from people working in dispensaries. I’m a patient myself. I have glaucoma.

Do you think the state will add more conditions at some point ? Not anytime soon based on rejection of five conditions that us and other companies suggested. Those conditions are depression, insomnia, autism, anxiety and Opioid addiction. All of those are common to other states lists of qualifying conditions.

How do you relax? I’ve been working out very hard with weights and the bike.I feel much better after I exercise. I also love music, and my wife and I enjoy good red wine.

Do you have any professional or extracurricular interests that you’re passionate about outside of Buckeye Relief? Absolutely. My wife and I started the human fund 15 years ago. It’s a nonprofit called the human fund, which supports arts and music in the Cleveland schools. We have an event every year in late summer where we bring in a national musical act. So far, we’ve generated $1.2 million for the schools. The event starts with a musical performance from high school kids – and they are so professional. We generally focus on kids who attend the Cleveland School of the Arts. The kids perform first, then we have dinner before the national act performs. It’s very casual and a lot of fun.

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