The owner of a marijuana cultivation business who was approved by the state to run a Level II grow facility in Akron, Columbus and Canton — but can be licensed to run just one — confirmed that he has selected Akron over the other cities to open his Ohio cultivation site.
Matthew Noyes, CEO of Fire Rock Ltd., said he informed the state last week that he’ll move forward with the Akron site at 1076 Home Ave. That location is just south of state Route 261 near the intersection with Home Avenue, southwest of Chapel Hill Mall and about 2.5 miles west of the Tallmadge Circle.
“The facility, the building itself, is the perfect size. The location is perfect,” he said. “Working with the zoning department and city council of Akron was a great experience, and I just think all those things put together made it the best choice for the cultivation aspect of the company.”
The Ohio native — who is based in Massillon and is an orthopedic surgeon by day, specializing in shoulder reconstruction — also runs a medical cannabis cultivation facility in California under Fire Rock Ltd.
Noyes said that operation came online about four years ago and is similar in size to the Level II cultivation facility he’ll be running in Akron with his business partner, Peter Pantelides.
According to property records, the light-manufacturing facility at 1076 Home Ave. has 16,470 square feet of space.
As a Level II cultivator in Ohio, however, total growing space initially caps out at 3,000 square feet.
The extra space will allow for room to expand grow space in the future, Noyes said, if and when the state allows that.
Noyes confirmed that he’s also seeking one of the state’s 40 initial licenses for marijuana processors. He declined to comment on where he’s looking to open that business, saying only that it won’t be connected to the cultivation facility in Akron. Notably, applications for processors have not yet been released.
The state is statutorily allowed to license up to 24 cultivators — 12 in Level I facilities and 12 in Level II — ahead of Ohio’s medical marijuana program kicking in next September. Level I facilities are significantly larger and more expensive than Level II operations, with total grow space capping out at 25,000 square feet.
Noyes and Fire Rock are among 11 operators of Level II cultivation sites the state awarded provisional licenses to on Nov. 3. The state is expected to announce recipients of provisional Level I cultivation licenses in the coming weeks. In total, the state received 185 applications from aspiring cultivators, 76 for Level II facilities and 109 for Level I.
Fire Rock operating in Akron means there are now five cultivators confirmed for Northeast Ohio: two in Akron, and one each in Canton, Oberlin and Ravenna. The other cultivator licensed in Akron is Galenas LLC, which will have a facility at 1956 S. Main St.
Meanwhile, the window to submit applications for one of the state’s initial 60 dispensary licenses closes at the end of this week.
While it’s unclear how many will apply for those, the interest has been massive. The financial barrier to entry is much lower for dispensaries than cultivators or processors. And with the state licensing up to 18 dispensaries in Northeast Ohio, including five in Cuyahoga County — which ties Columbus’ Franklin County for the most possible dispensaries of any county in Ohio — there’s been a rush by aspiring dispensary operators to secure real estate for those retail shops across the state, but in this region in particular.
Noyes said that while there’s construction work ahead, he believes there’s plenty of time to get the Akron facility up and running and producing medical marijuana well ahead of next September.
“I feel very fortunate and humble not that we were selected, but that we have an opportunity to work with the state of Ohio because I think they will do it right,” Noyes said.
“My goal is for the state of Ohio to look at us as the benchmark for small, Level II cultivators,” he added.