Cincinnati took a step toward embracing the medical marijuana industry Friday, breaking with several Ohio communities that have already voted to ban its cultivation and sale.
A proposal allowing medical marijuana cultivation and processing in manufacturing districts in Cincinnati will be reviewed by a Cincinnati City Council committee Tuesday; it could be considered Wednesday by the full council.
The move could pave the way for businesses like Nature’s Apex, owned by Rhinegeist co-founders Bob Bonder and Bryant Goulding, to bloom in Camp Washington. Nature’s Apex hopes to apply for a license to cultivate and process medical marijuana in the Cincinnati area.
Nature’s Apex would partner with the Colorado-based MJardin to bring experienced managers with first-hand experience to train local employees, Bonder said by email. He said they anticipate creating at least 200 jobs throughout their supply chain.
Allowing the medical marijuana industry to operate in Camp Washington would revitalize its business district and provide much-needed employment opportunities according to a letter of support by the Camp Washington Community Board.
Elsewhere in Southwest Ohio, Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth has similarly supported CannAscend’s plan to cultivate and process medical marijuana.
“Any time you can bring new jobs, pay taxes and it’s legal, I’m happy,” Stanforth said.
CannAscend anticipates employing between 250 and 300 people in the Wilmington area if its license application is approved, said Cincinnati financier Jimmy Gould.
The goal of these businesses is to help patients who have no other options, said Jeremy Unruh, chief compliance officer for PharmaCann, another Ohio applicant.
He said the average medical marijuana patient in Illinois, where PharmaCann is based, is a 55-year-old white woman with cancer.
“We are focused on the true medical side of the medical cannabis industry,” Unruh said.
Cities such as Blue Ash, Evandale and Fairfield have banned the medical marijuana industry due to concerns about sending a “mixed message” about drugs.
Allowing marijuana in any form would interfere with cities’ ability to address the ongoing opioid epidemic, said Fairfield City Councilman Bill Woeste in a letter to the Enquirer.
Unruh said states that legalize medical marijuana are shown to have fewer opioid overdoses.
The ordinance was introduced by City Council member Christopher Smitherman on June 9. Potential large scale cultivators have until June 30 to submit applications for one of 12 licenses to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program.