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One of the dozen customers who turned out to the dispensary during its first official hour of business was 47-year-old Eli Pruitt, 47, of New Miami, who said he relied on prescribed opiates to deal with chronic pain for 10 years. Then came seven years of not taking anything, during which his life was “pretty rough.”

Being able to have access to medical marijuana for the past two years has made “a big difference” in reducing the pain caused by degenerative discs, bone spurs, arthritis and pain in the muscles and joints of the lower back, Pruitt said. It also doesn’t come with the “nasty” side effects opiates can produce, he said.

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“I did it by choice because I just did not want to go back to a pain clinic, and so far it’s been helping me,” Pruitt said. “It makes it bearable. Sometimes, it’s just unbearable where you can’t go out and do anything, you can’t operate.

“When your mind’s on pain 24/7, that tears you down quick.”

Having a medical marijuana dispensary nearby means not having to spend at two hours of travel time to retrieve his prescribed medication, Pruitt said.

“I’m really happy it’s here,” he said.

The dispensary carries every product type allowed by the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program and is open from noon to 7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays. Menu and pricing are available at www.bloomohio.com.

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Bloom Medicinals, a family owned company with more than five years of experience in the cannabis business, was awarded five provisional dispensary licenses throughout Ohio, , according to Andrew Wagner, head of operations for Bloom Medicinals.

Already open are Bloom Medicinals’ dispensaries in Columbus, Maumee and Painesville.

“At the time we were procuring our locations and properties, we had the opportunity to meet with city officials in each location to determine if our operations would be a good fit for their community, Wagner said.

Some of those factors include nearby access via roadways/highways, population density, real estate zoning, surrounding areas, availability of property, price and more, he said.

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“Seven Mile and the surrounding area met most of these criteria and Bloom Medicinals made the decision to proceed with an application for this location,” Wagner said.

Bloom Medicinals of Seven Mile employs 10 full-time staff and over the coming weeks will hire as many as five more full- or part-time employees to allow it to expand to six days a week and offer morning hours for its patients.

In June 2016, former Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law that authorizes use by patients with 21 conditions, including cancer or chronic pain, in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing. Patients and their caregivers will be allowed to possess up to a 90 day supply.

Pruitt said should accept the usefulness of medicinal marijuana and not judge those who choose to get a prescription.

“Don’t look at somebody like they’re a drug addict because people really need help with pain and opiates, it’s not the way to go in my opinion,” he said. “I’m glad they finally realized that this is a medicine.”

Strawberry Fields at 300 N. Main St. in Monroe opens at 10 a.m. Friday following a 9:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony.