Vireo Health International Inc. announced this week it plans to open a medical marijuana dispensary by early- to mid-November at Sugar Maple Crossing, 4960 Miller Trunk Highway.

Kyle Kingsley, Vireo's founder and CEO, considers the Duluth/Hermantown market a natural choice for his firm.

"You have a large population base that's grossly underserved right now," he said, noting that a number of people from the greater Duluth area currently drive down to one of his company's dispensaries in Minneapolis, and others travel to a competing dispensary in Hibbing.

Kingsley is no stranger to the area, having attended the University of Minnesota Duluth, where he double-majored, earning degrees in German and biochemistry before moving on to med school in the Twin Cities.

Back in December, Kingsley shared his plans to open a dispensary at a yet-to-be-determined location in Duluth with the News Tribune. At the time, his company was called Minnesota Medical Solutions, which was recently renamed Vireo.

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But the Hermantown location checked all the boxes.

"I'm very familiar with this area. This location is readily accessible, and it is a very cost-effective location," Kingsley said. "You know it's splitting hairs between Hermantown and Duluth."

Vireo's dispensaries, including the one to be opened in Hermantown, will operate under a new rebranded banner: Green Goods.

"A lot of dispensaries right now, if you look at them, they're a little bit sterile. They're probably too clinical. And that's not always the most comfortable for people, with the whole white-coat syndrome issue," Kingsley said.

"So, we're looking to embrace the fact that we're doing good work, and we're bringing kind of green plant-based alternatives to opioids and other pharmaceuticals. That's the Green Goods concept," he said.

Vireo already operates dispensaries in Minneapolis, Bloomington, Rochester and Moorhead. Besides the new operation in Hermantown, the company also plans to open another dispensary in Blaine yet this year, as well.

The Hermantown dispensary will offer curbside pickup exclusively for as long the transmission of the COVID-19 virus remains a concern.

"People will be very impressed with how easy it is to get medical cannabis once they're certified," Kingsley said. "You can pre-order online. We're very e-commerce enabled. People are usually able to pick up their medication in minutes. It's very convenient."