While many area communities have opted to wait on medical marijuana, it could be growing in a neighboring township that welcomes it as a potential business opportunity. Erie Township trustees have approved a resolution that would limit medical marijuana businesses in their jurisdiction to one cultivation facility and one processing facility, but it does not allow for any dispensary businesses, according to Erie Township Trustee Frederick Bice.
The resolution passed 2-0 during the township trustees’ regular meeting on Monday.
Bice explained on Tuesday that at the township level there are essentially two options: either prohibit medical marijuana businesses completely or place a limit on them.
A number of Ohio cities, including Port Clinton, Fremont and Clyde, have approved moratoriums on medical marijuana, barring all marijuana-related businesses for at least several more months.
An Ohio law legalizing medical marijuana across the state took effect in September 2016, and state lawmakers are still working on details for implementation.
According to the Register of Ohio, the most recently proposed rules filed last week for the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program limit the number of medical marijuana cultivators to a total of 24, split into two different levels of 12 each based on size.
Ohio law delegates the medical marijuana licensing authority to the Department of Commerce.
“It may not be anything. It’s all up to the state — whether the state says they will be one of the twelve,” said Alfred Wozniak, Erie Township trustee.
The application, which Bice said he learned was more than over 10,000 pages long, addresses a lot of the concerns, such as security. Bice likened it more to a pharmacy as opposed to marijuana growing out in a cornfield.
“I had to rethink my views on it and understand that this is more of a medical process now than anything else,” he said.
According to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program proposed rules, the applications must include a fee and plans for business, operation, financial, security and quality assurance, as well as anything else the department deems necessary to evaluate the applicants.
The applicants will be ranked using an impartial numerical process that factors in the criteria established in the rules.
“It is just a preliminary application to be in the pool to get selected,” Wozniak said. “It won’t be up to us. It will be up to the state. All we did was said, ‘Yeah, we’d entertain it if in fact it were granted.’”
If it is granted, Bice said the business would be closely monitored by the Department of Commerce and would bring jobs to Erie Township.
“For a large grow operation, they have to have significant cash backing and significant size — that’s going to take people to maintain that,” he said. “There’s jobs that come along with this.”
Bice said after reviewing legal information and speaking to other township residents, none of whom he said were opposed to it, they did not see any real downside to it.
“We thought it through and talked to others and it’s simply a business opportunity for the township,” he said.