A business bringing medical marijuana into Huron refers to the operation as a legal lifesaver for people suffering from long-lasting illnesses.
Many details about the company, known as Ohio Patients’ Choice or OPC Cultivation, remain unknown as of today and won’t be learned for quite some time.
But, among other facts, here’s what the Register has previously confirmed:
• On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Commerce awarded this company one of 13 coveted statewide “large grower” licenses to build a medical marijuana cultivation center in Huron’s corporate park off Rye Beach Road.
• The facility, which could represent a privately funded investment totaling as much as $20 million, must open by September 2018. That means construction might start before 2017 ends.
• The company plans on creating at least 72 direct jobs from within this cultivation center with opportunities to generate related employment in and around Huron.
• Local officials primarily support the move because it should inject new streams of revenues — through real estate, income, sales and other tax sources — into, among other entities, Huron Schools, the Huron Public Library and the city government.
More on medical marijuana
During an exclusive interview with the Register, Cleveland-based attorney Jeff McCourt, the legal counsel representing Ohio Patients’ Choice, who’s worked with Huron officials on this project, provided some additional context:
• Who he is: “I have several clients working in the medical marijuana industry and related activities nationally. I have also worked with the owners of this applicant group for a while and helped them essentially quarterback the process of putting the application together and building a team for the Ohio license application.”
• Who he’s working for: “The ownership group is most easily thought of as a joint venture between two successful Ohio-based entrepreneurs who have created large businesses in Ohio that have employed thousands of people. Their businesses are related to real estate and property acquisition.”
Note: McCourt declined to name the two owners.
• Why they’re interested in medical marijuana: “They look at it, first and foremost, as an opportunity to provide alternative medications to traditional pharmaceutical products through agricultural-based products. Both owners have had several family members and dear friends who have had serious illnesses and have been afflicted with the opioid epidemic and prescription drugs. Medical marijuana is a strong likelihood to provide an alternative therapy and release for folks who can’t find it in traditional medications and/or having complications as a result of taking traditional pharmaceutical medications. Their business is born out of seeing that frustration of friends and family and knowing there is an alternative out there.”
• How they’ll operate the business: “The owners have had the benefit of seeing medical marijuana in other states being done responsibly under tightly regulated programs. Our state went far in making this, quite possibly, the tightest regulated (medical marijuana) program in the country. That will help make it successful in keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and others who are not recommended by a doctor to consume it. It’s paramount to the owners to have a fully compliant business and full assurance they are getting involved in a business that will meet the standards that are held to their other businesses and ventures.”
• Why they chose Huron: “The owners have some experience and friends in the area and have some connections out there. Also the economic development that has been happening there over the past couple of years is tremendous. It’s close to Toledo and Cleveland. It’s on the lake and a gateway position to northern Ohio’s best asset, which is the lakefront. It has that natural, walkable, small-town feel but really is connected to bigger population centers and has access to many great resources and family activities, like Cedar Point. Everything just suggests that Huron is on the upswing.”
• What the ultimate goal is: “Medical marijuana is a win for Ohio patients, particularly for patients in northern Ohio that have qualifying conditions and are seriously ill. They are going to have access to the best, safest, most medically appropriate, pharmaceutically oriented medical marijuana product that is currently available anywhere in the world. We will be producing that in our facility with a high level of medical oversight.”
Clearing up medical marijuana misconceptions
The inception: In 2016, the Ohio Legislature approved House Bill 523, which sets guidelines for a statewide medical marijuana program across Ohio. Gov. John Kasich also signed the bill.
The regulators: The Ohio Department of Commerce, State Medical Board and Board of Pharmacy will all play a role:
• The commerce department will oversee licensing of marijuana cultivators, processors and testing labs.
• The pharmacy board will license dispensaries and register patients and their caregivers and set up a hotline to take questions from patients and caregivers.
• The medical board would issue certificates to physicians seeking to recommend treatment with medical marijuana.
The users: People who suffer from one of 20 specific health conditions — such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, cancer, Parkinson’s, HIV and more — can receive a recommendation for medical marijuana. The only such place in Erie County where people can receive one: Alternative Medicine Centers of America, located within the Sandusky Plaza on Cleveland Road (U.S. 6).
The substance: Regulated medical marijuana in Ohio only comes in the form of oils, tinctures, vapors, edibles and patches. People can’t smoke marijuana under the bill.
The transactions: People can’t purchase medical marijuana from a cultivation center. Rather the products get transported, in a highly secure fashion, to a nearby state-regulated dispensary. As of today, it’s not known where those establishments could be located. Though many local municipalities, such as Sandusky and Huron, applied for those licenses as well. The award date for dispensary permits should happen sometime in early 2018.