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TWINSBURG -- City 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.
This opens the door for Silphium, a potential medical marijuana facility owned by Dave Moorhead, to move into an existing facility at 2440 Edison Boulevard in Twinsburg. Moorhead says he will apply for one of 12 "Tier I" licenses from the state' Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, which will allow a licensed medical marijuana grower up to 25,000 square feet of canopy.
Both cultivation and processing would take place at the 28,000-square-foot building on Edison, according to Moorhead. Silphium LLC is headquartered on East Enterprise Parkway.
"Needless to say we are very excited and appreciative of the city's decision to lift the moratorium," Moorhead said. "The next step is to earn a Level I license from the state. Applications for cultivation are due soon. If successful, we will have nine months from the date of award to be operational."
At-large Councilor Bill Furey said the moratorium was put in place "so the city could have control" over what went in.
"There was a long presentation at the last meeting, and we got a lot more information, and I think we all understand it better," Furey said. "The purpose of removing this ban is so we can consider whether to move forward with this particular company. People who wish to apply to the state can use Twinsburg as an option for their business plan now that we no longer ban medical marijuana facilities."
Council President Gary Sorace said that if Silphium obtains one of the 12 licenses, it "would be required to follow the same rules and regulations as any other business in the city."
"They are no different from any other business in getting approval," Sorace said.
Once licensed, Silphium's proposal would go through Planning Commission and the building department, as the latter is required to approve the project due to necessary security precautions called for in state regulations, Sorace said. Once approvals have been obtained through these entities, the proposal would go before Council for final approval.
The deadline to apply for a license to cultivate marijuana is May 8. Applications for processing are due Sept. 8. The business must be up and running by Sept. 8, 2018, according to Moorhead. Moorhead said he will not distribute the marijuana at the Twinsburg facility, which requires another license.
"I think if they can get approval, it can be a bonus for the city," Sorace said. "Absolutely, I get behind it. It's a legal enterprise established by the state of Ohio. Many people depend on medical marijuana. One way or another this is going to be done, either here or in another community. Why not allow it to be done here?"
According to Moorhead, a city that hosts a cultivation business receives 2.5 percent of sales revenue, which could mean up to $250,000 per year for Twinsburg. About 7.4 percent of Ohio's cultivation market is in this area, he said.
Sorace said the financial numbers quoted by Moorhead were "very conservative."
"I think this can bring in far more to the city's coffers," he said.
Mayor Ted Yates said Moorhead's presentation at the last Council caucus "really helped me understand the regulations."
"The financial commitment they have just to make the facility operate ... is about a $4 million investment on the inside of a 28,000-square-foot building," Yates said. "It's a significant amount of investment, in addition to the security they need to put in to operate to regulations."
Ohio allows for 20 conditions to be treated with medical marijuana, Moorhead said in his presentation to Council March 28. 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 during his March presentation. 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 attracts children.