As a sophomore at Bucknell, Toledo native Pete Kadens started a company for a business class, selling camping chairs emblazoned with the university’s blue and orange bison logo. Soon, he had 32 employees under him and was turning the highest profit his professor had ever seen.
Two decades later, Mr. Kadens is the CEO of one of the biggest cannabis companies in the country, with a market cap of more than $1 billion. His company, Green Thumb Industries, which will soon grow, manufacture, or sell marijuana in seven states, is poised to open Toledo’s first medical marijuana dispensary on West Sylvania Avenue this fall.
Pete Kadens, of RISE medical marijuana dispensary operated by Green Thumb Industries, poses for a portrait at 3157 West Sylvania Avenue in Toledo.
“This is a great part of town,” Mr. Kadens said, sitting in a restaurant down the block from the dispensary’s future location. “I hope we continue to lift up this area.”
The vacated building that will house the dispensary still has signs for a ballet school, a health-care association, a hearing-aid shop, and a computer-repair business.
But soon, it will be transformed in GTI’s corporate image. The bricks will be painted over. The parking lot will be revamped to accommodate 30 cars. An orange sign out front will read RISE Toledo. The interior will be brightly lit, “like a medical spa,” Mr. Kadens said, with comfortable chairs to sit in — a key provision for patients with chronic pain — and a security guard, along with dozens of cameras, keeping watch.
“In most communities, our facilities make neighborhoods safer,” Mr. Kadens said. “We work with the local police force to increase patrols. We’ve never — knock on wood — had a