PARMA, Ohio – Last night Parma City Council approved a use variance 8-1 allowing North Coast Therapeutics, LLC. and Great Lakes Medicinal, Inc. to open a medical marijuana dispensary at 5341 Pearl Road.
“I was happy Council approved the use variance from an economic development point of view,” Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter said. “That building has been empty and had a number of uses that weren’t a good fit, including a smoking bar and used car lot. We think this is a good use.”
“North Coast Therapeutics and Great Lakes Medicinal are very pleased with the result of last night’s City Council vote,” said Frantz Ward LLP attorney Thomas Haren, who is representing both companies.
“The state’s target date for an operational market is September 2018. If awarded licenses, North Coast and Great Lakes look forward to providing safe and effective medical cannabis to patients in Parma and its neighboring communities.”
Ward 2 Councilwoman Debbie Lime cast the lone dissenting vote.
“I didn’t believe it should be in a residential area,” Lime said. “I’m for medical marijuana, I’m for the city having it. I just didn’t feel that was the proper location.”
The proper location in her opinion are Parma’s industrial zoned districts, which are in the northwest corner of the city.
Someone else also disappointed with Council’s approval is Neff & Associates owner Mary Ellen Neff. Her Pearl Road accounting office is located across the street from the potential medical marijuana dispensary.
“I believe you could see the focus of the meeting was all about what the product was they were selling and not about what Council had to vote on, which was a zoning variance,” Neff said. “While I may or may not have an issue with the product they are selling, it’s supposed to be in an industrial area probably for a reason.
“Space is one big factor. Location relative to the residents surrounding it is another. Putting it in an industrial area would take some of the criminal or dangerous aspects, if you will, out of the neighborhood.”
The development agreement between the city and North Coast Therapeutics and Great Lakes Medicinal requires security be present at the dispensary. DeGeeter said the companies have vowed when possible to hire off-duty Parma Police officers.
“There are also some revenue incentives,” DeGeeter said. “The city will be introducing a net profit tax on these facilities. That’s been discussed with full disclosure with the applicant.”
While the city will receive a 2.5 percent net profit tax, Heran said the prospective companies have offered an additional 1.5 percent. In addition to giving Parma $5,000 annually, the company’s owners are moving a large manufacturing business, not related to medical marijuana, with more than 35 “well-paying” jobs to a Plaza Drive location.
“I said way back when we first embarked on this, we’d be remiss not to consider it,” DeGeeter said. “Now they’ve got to make an application to the state, so it’s not completed yet.
“There are just five licenses that will be distributed by the state of Ohio for dispensaries in Cuyahoga County. I know other cities are working with medical marijuana partners.”