Six individuals, companies seeking to grow medical marijuana in Akron

by Robin Ann Morris on

Akron has received six applications so far from individuals and companies that want to start growing medical marijuana in the city. The applications — released by the city — highlight projects ranging from $50,000 to $6 million. The proposals include property directly behind the former Rolling Acres Mall, land owned by the city of Akron and a warehouse near the Summit County Jail.

Here are the sites, applicants, name of the property owner and estimated investment:

• Harlem Road on property behind the former Rolling Acres mall. Greenleaf Gardens LLC of Copley Township applied. The property is owned by LSH Romig Akron of Gates Mills. $6 million.

• 1055 Home Ave. Equinox Capital LLC applied. The property is owned by the city. The application is signed by Akron businessman Paul Thomarios. $1 million.

City spokeswoman Ellen Lander Nischt noted that the city is in the process of selling the property, which was once used as a sewer maintenance facility.

• 1956 S. Main St. Galenas LLC applied. The land is owned by Firestone Self Storage. $1.1 million.

• 1023-1025 S. Broadway. Akron businessman Michael L. Collins applied. The properties are owned by CMI Holdings. $400,000.

• 171 Kelly Ave. Grow Med Ohio LLC of Akron applied. The land is owned by Alexander Buildings LLC. $200,000.

• 132 E. Crosier St. near the Summit County Jail. Mike Sonderman, who owns the property, applied. $50,000.

Considering security is an issue with the marijuana operations, there couldn’t be a safer place than next to the jail, Sonderman said.

He said he applied to see if the location would qualify.

The applications provide the proposed addresses, estimated project cost and applicant, but do not provide specific details about the project.

Five of the six sites are in industrial areas, surrounded mostly by warehouses and fenced-in lots, as the city is not permitting any marijuana operations in residential neighborhoods. The Harlem Road site is more rural.

On Tuesday afternoon, a Beacon Journal reporter and photographer visited businesses surrounding the proposed lots. No management personnel or employees seemed to know the sites were proposed for marijuana cultivation and distribution.

Those who were willing to comment, however, didn’t have an issue with being near the sites.

“I don’t think I’d have a problem with it … as long as they’re good neighbors,” said Louis Ciraldo, the director of marketing at Summit Construction Co., whose building sits next to the proposed site on Home Avenue.

“It’s gotta be better than the other smells we smell down the road,” Ciraldo added with a laugh, saying the company is between an asphalt plant and a winery.

“I think that’d be dope,” said Lon Kyaw, an employee at ThyBar, a roof curb manufacturing facility next to the proposed site on Broadway Avenue. “It’s not going to bother us.”

Employees at ThyBar work with heavy machinery and keep the windows open at the facility, so some voiced concern about possible fumes interfering with their work.

“If they want to make money growing weed over there, so be it,” said Jacob Pastorius V, an employee at ThyBar. “As long as they don’t smoke it on my shift … If it’s medical, I’m for it all the way.”

Five of the six applications will be reviewed June 2 by the city Planning Commission. The East Crosier application was received past the commission deadline so it will be considered in July, Nischt said.

The commission will make recommendations on the applications to City Council, which voted earlier this month to approve local regulations allowing the production and sales of medicinal marijuana as permitted under state law.

The state law allows people with 21 medical conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy, to purchase and use marijuana after getting a doctor’s recommendation.

Under the city regulation, applicants must receive a conditional use permit from the city and be approved as a cultivator by the state. Then, they would still be required to obtain an operating license from the city.

Geoff Korff, an attorney and president of Quaker City Castings in Salem, is helping lead the Galenas effort proposed for South Main Street.

“We’re approaching this as if we are starting a pharmaceutical company, basically,” he said. “I say that we’re going to be building a greenhouse but it’s going to be an incredibly secure, highly sophisticated greenhouse and operation.”

He had originally hoped to launch the business in Salem, but the city rejected a rezoning effort there.

“We realized that Akron was going to be a good fit for us,” he said.

Korff said he didn’t always have a favorable stance toward marijuana, but his attitude changed after learning about the benefits for those with ailments.

Galenas is made up of mostly Ohioans and a handful of others from outside the state, Korff said.

“We intend to be one of the — if not the — most put together and professionally organized level two or tier two applicants in the state,” he said.

Representatives from Grow Med Ohio, Greenleaf Gardens and Equinox Capital couldn’t be reached for comment. Collins declined to comment publicly about the application.

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Written by: Robin Ann Morris

Founder & CEO at MaryJane Agency, LLC

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