COLUMBUS — On Friday, Sept. 29, the Ohio Marijuana Control Program revealed the names of the more than 180 businesses who applied to cultivate marijuana throughout the state. Two of those companies have proposed sites here in Madison County, one in London and one in Plain City.
Although the company names have been released, the state has yet to decide which on the list of businesses will be granted the licenses. One of the listed companies, PalliaTech Ohio, a biotech company based in Massachusetts that specializes in marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and research, has a proposed site at 238 Lafayette St. in London, the site of the former Kmart building.
“A few months ago, the group reached out to our zoning department to see if there was a moratorium,” London mayor Pat Closser said. Although some cities have passed ordinances that would put a moratorium on medical marijuana companies coming into their town, Closser said London does not have that in place.
“I think some people feel more inclined to let cultivation come into town, but not the dispensaries,” Closser said. “Some feel there would be an added issue of security with those.” If the company is one of the businesses granted the license to come into London, Closser said it could have benefits to the city.
“It would be a huge boost to our tax revenue, bring jobs and fill an empty building,” he added. “It would add one more financial opportunity to London.” City council member, Lora Long, was slightly more apprehensive.
“When they first came to us, I thought it may be a good idea. I was for it,” Long said. “Now, I’m not sure that I am.” Her concern is that by bringing the company into the city, it might have the wrong impact on the community. “I just don’t think we need something like that in town.”
Brenda Russell, also on city council, said that the economic potentials might be the thing that the city should focus on, but that it may come down to education.
“We should look at the financial needs of London and decide if this would be good for us,” Russell said. “It might be that it requires a lot of education. Maybe it would be something that we should open up to the community in an open forum.”
For Plain City, Ohio Medigreen Ltd., a business in Delaware, has a proposed site at 9970 Ketch Road in Plain City. In February, village council members began the process of enacting a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries and farms, which was approved as an ordinance in April. However, the moratorium specifies a ban on sales within the village limits. The proposed address on Ketch Road would be more than three miles outside of the village limits.
In April, the Ohio Department of Commerce released the application and instructions for cultivators. The department plans to issue up to 12 level I licenses for up to 25,000 square feet of growing space and 12 level II licenses for up to 3,000 square feet of space.
The nonrefundable application fee was $20,000 for level I applications and $2,000 for level II applications.
If awarded a license, level I cultivators would have to pay a $200,000 annual fee — one of the highest of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs. Level II cultivators would pay $20,000 a year.
Ohio’s medical marijuana law, passed in June 2016, allows people with one of 21 medical conditions to buy and use marijuana if recommended by a physician. Most of the details about the program, such as who will grow and sell marijuana and how much patients can buy, were left to the commerce department, Ohio State Board of Pharmacy and Ohio State Medical Board.
The state is expected to make its decisions and contact those who will be granted the licenses in mid-November. In total, 24 licenses will be awarded.
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.