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TWINSBURG -- A local business owner took his case to acquire one of a limited number of state licenses for growing medical marijuana before City Council March 28.
Standing in the path to an occupancy permit for Moorhead to set up cultivation and processing in Twinsburg is a six-month moratorium on occupancy permits allowing just these uses, which Twinsburg City Council unanimously put in place Feb. 28. Mayor Ted Yates said previously that several communities were doing this, and that he thought it would be wise to see what the state would do regarding the issue.
Dave Moorhead, owner of Silphium LLC headquartered on East Enterprise Parkway, is applying for one of 12 "Tier I" licenses from the state's Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, which would allow a licensed medical marijuana cultivator up to 25,000 square feet of canopy. The cultivation and processing would take place at a facility on 2440 Edison Boulevard in Twinsburg, according to Moorhead.
The deadline to apply for a license to cultivate is May 8. Applications for processing are due Sept. 8. The business must be up and running by Sept. 8, 2018, according to Moorhead.
Twinsburg City Council unanimously put the moratorium on occupancy permits related to marijuana cultivation and processing in place Feb. 28.
Yates said Moorhead gave a detailed presentation on the proposal and the state regulations regarding medical marijuana.
"It was very well put together," Yates said.
In an April 3 phone interview, Yates said he was "still spending more time researching the medical marijuana industry and its impact on the communities."
"I've learned a lot on how heavily regulated this is," Yates said. "From a zoning standpoint, this is not a prohibited use for the area."
Yates said that the feedback he received from Council indicated that members were in favor of removing the moratorium.
Council president Gary Sorace agreed.
"I can't speak for the other people, but everyone seemed to be in favor of going forward" with removing the moratorium, Sorace said.
The Council office, as of April 3, had not received legislation regarding the removal of the moratorium, but Sorace said there was a good chance the issue would come up at Council's April 11 meeting.
According to Moorhead, a city that hosts a cultivation business receives 2.5 percent of sales revenue, which can be up to $250,000 per year. About 7.4 percent of Ohio's market is in this area, he said.
Ohio allows for 20 conditions to be treated with medical marijuana, Moorhead said, "a lot of ... conditions that impact a lot of people." Up to two million people in Ohio could have access to medical marijuana, he said.
Marijuana used for medicinal purposes "is a totally different product" than the drug used to get high, Moorhead said. The state's laws allow medical marijuana to be taken orally or through a vaporizer, and forbids smoking it. In addition, advertising must be state-approved and cannot use marketing that would attract children.
"The state has mandated very clearly that any advertising must be approved by the state," Moorhead said. "Even our logo had to be approved."
Moorhead said delays from the state in allowing access to medical marijuana are "a good thing."
"They have taken a look at the mistakes of the other states and are looking at ways to avoid them," he said.
In addition to the 12 Tier I licenses allowing cultivation, the state is offering 12 Tier II licenses that will permit a smaller, 3,000-square-foot area for processing.
"We would like to process in our own facility, if we can," Moorhead said. "This is a family-owned business, and we've done research on this for a very long time. I've been here for more than 28 years at Enterprise Parkway. I have a loyalty to Twinsburg. The city gave us a 10-year tax abatement when we were young and growing, and that was the shot in the arm we needed to succeed."
Besides cultivating and processing, there also will be licenses to dispense the product. Moorhead says this does not apply to his business. Approved dispensaries are the only places approved to give medical marijuana to patients, he said.
Between security and how the plants are cultivated, residents won't even know there are marijuana plants inside the facility, Moorhead says.
"We are looking for a seamless partnership, and are hoping to move this to Twinsburg," Moorhead said.