NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy grants a permit to a New Orleans business to open the first medical marijuana dispensary in the region. But that decision, in a competitive process, caught the front-runner by surprise.
H & W Drug Store, run by Ruston Henry, won the state license to open the first medical marijuana dispensary in New Orleans. It will be located at the Oak Park Shopping Center at Paris Avenue and Mirabeau in Gentilly. The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy granted that permit to H & W despite the fact that the business was ranked fourth by a pharmacy board subcommittee.
"What happened with the board is they evaluated the proposal, they evaluated the company, and they seen that we're the front runners. They say, hey man this company has been in business for over 50 years in the New Orleans community. They looked at our proposal, they looked at our presentation and they reconsidered and they said hey were gonna go with H & W Drug Store," said Henry.
That decision was shocking to the CEO of The RX Greenhouse. His business was ranked No. 1 by the pharmacy board subcommittee. He already operates a medical marijuana dispensary in Maryland and was waiting on final approval from the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to open a dispensary in Metairie.
"I think the Board of Pharmacy, you know, should have to explain why and how they came to that decision, especially since, you know, at least on my time when I served on the Maryland Board of Pharmacy, it almost never happens the board goes against the subcommittee's recommendation. This is almost a first for me," said The RX Greenhouse CEO, Dr. Sajal Roy, PharmD.
But, Henry says their experience played a role in the board's decision.
"We have a great site, we have a great management team, we have a legacy, we have a proven track record, so they looked at that and they realized that's basically the foundation of the business that we need," said Henry. "50 years of experience. My father started H&W Drug Store in 1963. I'm a second generation pharmacist."
The CEO of the RX Greenhouse says he will make a decision in the next week or so whether he will challenge the board's decision.
"I don't know how you can be the most qualified if you've never had any experience operating a medical marijuana pharmacy that part is tough for me," said Roy. "We need to see how the board came to that decision, you know, how do you go from the number one ranked applicant by a committee that evaluated everything to choosing the number 4 ranked applicant, I mean that's very unheard of."
We reached out to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy and asked what criteria they used to make their decision. The executive director says it was based on a number of factors including character of the pharmacy owner, location, and the business's ability to provide security to prevent things like theft.