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MACEDONIA -- City Council unanimously voted to permit medical marijuana cultivation in Macedonia.
Thought he declined to name them, Mayor Joe Migliorini said there are three cultivation companies interested in starting operations in the city. He said other municipalities are passing legislation to allow cultivation in their towns because of the potential financial benefit to the municipalities.
For example, Twinsburg Council voted 6-0 April 11 to overturn a moratorium it passed in February that blocked occupancy permits for six months for those wanting to cultivate or process medical marijuana.
Ohio allows for 20 conditions to be treated with medical marijuana, David Moorhead owner of Silphium, a potential medical marijuana facility in Twinsburg, said in a presentation to Twinsburg City Council March 28. Up to two million people in Ohio could have access to medical marijuana, he said. The state's laws allow medical marijuana to be taken orally or through a vaporizer, and forbids smoking it.
Migliorini said he has personally witnessed the positive effects of medical marijuana while his father-in-law was battling cancer and wouldn't take morphine or other pain medications.
"He was given the stem cell oil from cannabis and it took away his pain; otherwise, he would have been in excruciating pain day in and day out," Migliorini said. "I am not a promoter of going around smoking marijuana as such, but I think there is a medical purpose for it and I support that medical purpose because I saw it first-hand."
Council President Nick Molnar said he thought about residents who may be opposed to medical marijuana, but in the end said the city doesn't have the right to refuse the business.
"If it is legal to cultivate the material it's hard for us to say no to," Molnar said.
Legalities aside, the industry has the potential to bring significant dollars to the city.
Initially the city's ordinance sought to prohibit processing centers and retail dispensaries for the medicinal marijuana, but Council chose not to outlaw the distribution centers at this time as the state is still in the process of establishing regulations for such places.
According to medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov, "Administrative rules currently under development by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy will establish the standards and procedures, including application procedures, fees, number of available licenses, timing, how to apply, and renewal requirements. That information will be final when the rules are adopted by Sept. 8, 2017."
Law Director Mark Guidetti said municipalities in Oregon and Colorado have received hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue generated from medical marijuana, but noted the dollar amounts can vary greatly from community to community.
"I think it all depends on how much business comes in to your particular municipality," Guidetti said.
Councilor Sylvia Hanneken said she would like to see half of the city's money from the marijuana business earmarked for capital improvements. Molnar said it is always good to look down the road, but first the city needed to open the door to the cultivators.
She also moved to make a change in the ordinance stipulating a public hearing would be held prior to city approval of a facility. The ordinance originally stated "may be held." With the amendment passed, the application review procedure will include a public hearing to be held not less than 30 days after the date of the application.
Applicants interested in being a level I cultivator will pay a $10,000 nonrefundable application fee and $1,000 for a level II cultivator when the application is filed. According to the ordinance, "the purpose of the application fee is to cover the administrative costs of processing and investigating the application." Also required is a certificate of operation fee of $90,000 for a level I cultivator and $9,000 for a level II cultivator. A cultivator shall pay a certificate of operation annual renewal fee of $100,000 and level II cultivators will pay a $10,000 fee. All cultivators must be licensed.
Other requirements include being located in industrial zoning districts. Cultivators must be at least 1,000 feet away from a school, church, public library, public playground, public park, any licensed child care facility or any alcohol or drug rehabilitation facility. No more than two cultivators may be licensed or located within the city at any given time.
Security concerns were also addressed by the ordinance to establish tight security standards including locked doors at all times, surveillance cameras with video preservation standards, alarm systems, abundant lighting and hiring one off-duty uniformed Macedonia Police Officer during all open hours.
Editors note: Reporter April Helms contributed to this story.
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432