Medical marijuana facility plans aired

by Robin Ann Morris on

GREEN CAMP – “I want to be here,” the spokesperson for a group proposing a medical marijuana growing facility told community residents Thursday. Janet Breneman envisions an operation in this rural community southwest of Marion that would cultivate strains of medical marijuana that would target patients who have epilepsy and rheumatoid arthritis, among other ailments.

“We can’t come in here and stay for five years,” Breneman said, speaking of the commitment of her group, Green Provisions LLC. “We’re here for the duration.”

About 125 Green Camp township and village residents packed the meeting room at the Green Camp Township Complex to hear the proposal.

Breneman gave a 30-minute presentation and then answered questions for more than an hour about the proposal.to lease the former Parker Hannifin Hose Products Division plant, 2974 Marion-Green Camp Road. The 300,000-square-foot factory has been closed for 13 years.

Questions from the crowd ranged from concerns about security to how money generated by the operation would be used by the township. Trustees and residents agreed that road repair should be a priority.

The proposal calls for “a building within a building,” initially taking up about 25,000 square feet, she said. There would be a $3 million investment in a new roof, sandblasting and cleaning up the factory, she said. “In nine months, we’ll be up and running (once a license is issued).”

Projected numbers estimated by Breneman: First-year gross revenues of $15 million, an initial $2 million payroll and 25-30 full-time jobs for community members that would start at $15 per hour with full benefits. The number of jobs could expand if demand for medical marijuana in Ohio warrants it.

Parker Hannifin shuttered the Green Camp operation in 2004, resulting in the loss of almost 200 jobs. The plant produced wire-reinforced hydraulic hoses.

One resident expressed concerns about safety. “We’ll have a narcotic being grown yards from our homes,” he said, wondering if the plant would attract thieves.

Breneman said that crime has actually gone down in areas around other marijuana-cultivation operations, noting that marijuana dispensaries — not part of the Green Camp proposal — are where the thefts more typically occur. That’s a separate licensing area under state law. Furthermore, the state has strict security requirements for cultivation sites.

“We are going to protect ourselves, just like any business,” she said. There will be a security system, a security guard and access to the building will be via keypad entry.

“What are the negatives?” a resident asked.

Because of the legal requirements and the fact that it will be “very highly regulated,” Breneman said, “As long as everything is on the up and up, there should be no negatives.”  Each marijuana plant that is grown will be tracked by its DNA, so where it is going and how it is used will be monitored, she said.

All employees would have to, under state regulations, pass a background check and be fingerprinted, she said. The members of the Green Provisions group also must undergo background checks and place $500,000 in escrow for insurance.

According to the presentation, marijuana would be grown there and shipped out, Brenaman said. The operation could be expanded to include extraction of the cannabis oil, she said.

About 90 percent of the former Parker Hannifin site is in the township; 10 percent is in the village of Green Camp. Although that means the township would benefit financially, provisions would be made for the village, Breneman said.

“We do not want you to incur costs from what we do,” Breneman said in response to concerns that the operation would strain the village’s wastewater budget.

Township Trustee Chairman Tom Myers told the standing-room-only crowd that Thursday’s meeting was for informational purposes. Myers said earlier that a decision could come at the township’s Monday, May 15 regular meeting.

If trustees don’t give their approval, the group will seek to open its facility in Delaware County, Breneman said. Green Provisions initially looked at a site there, but didn’t get approval from Delaware City Council, she said. However, that council has reversed that decision, and that would be the fall-back plan, she said. “Green Camp is our first choice, that is Plan A.”

One resident elicited applause when he said that township residents should get to vote on whether trustees should give the project their blessing. When Breneman asked for a show of hands of those who supported the proposal, more than half the crowd raised their hands.

Even if Green Camp Township gives its blessing to the project, operators still have to apply to the state for a cultivator’s license, Breneman said.

The Ohio Department of Commerce finalized its rules on grow sites in April, ahead of a statutory May 6 deadline. Under the rules, the commerce department may award up to 12 Level I cultivator licenses and up to 12 Level II cultivator licenses prior to Sept. 9, 2018.

Level I cultivators are permitted to operate an initial marijuana cultivation area up to 25,000 square feet. Level II cultivators are permitted to operate an initial marijuana cultivation area of 3,000 square feet.

The state regulations are intended to avoid a monopoly — no cultivator could own more than one site, and they have to be spread across Ohio. Large sites would pay a $20,000, one-time, nonrefundable application fee and $180,000 licensing fee annually. Smaller sites would pay a $2,000 initial application fee and an $18,000 licensing fee each year.

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Written by: Robin Ann Morris

Founder & CEO at MaryJane Agency, LLC

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