SANDUSKY — Sandusky city commissioners must make a joint decision.
The question: Should they allow medical marijuana to waft within their community’s boundaries?
Come Monday, during a public meeting, they’re set to vote on legislation which, if approved, would repeal certain aspects of a ban they implemented this past August.
Lifting portions of the embargo in place today would make Sandusky eligible to become a host city for a company to legally cultivate medical marijuana.
Local officials want to secure one of 24 available statewide licenses to grow the drug and must apply this month. The award date, indicating where medical marijuana facilities can exist across Ohio, should happen sometime in September.
It’s assumed more than 100 cultivation companies want a permit to grow medical marijuana in Ohio. It’s not known how many cities, such as Sandusky, seek to become a host city.
The ultra-competitive process, however, comes with some great rewards for companies and host cities.
For example, a small, 3,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky could conservatively:
• Generate about $5 million in new real estate development through either rehabbing an existing or constructing an entirely new facility
• Create up to 10 high-paying jobs at first with the likelihood of this number doubling or tripling within the first operational year
• Produce hundreds of thousands of dollars in new tax money each year, fueling budgets of Sandusky Schools and all facets of city government
“We just want to provide Sandusky with an opportunity and option to do this,” city chief development officer Matt Lasko said. “Even though this is regulated by the state, the city (if approved) would be involved from a zoning standpoint, making sure it’s properly placed in a district, and assist with public education and outreach.”
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 prescription for medical marijuana.
The substance: Regulated medical marijuana in Ohio only comes in the form of oils, tinctures and patches. People can’t smoke marijuana under the bill.
The center: The license Sandusky wants is only for cultivation, which permits state-approved companies to grow, and not sell, medical marijuana.
The award: Any local government interested in potentially hosting a medical marijuana cultivation center must submit an application this month. The award date, indicating where medical marijuana facilities can exist across Ohio, should happen sometime in September.
The other governments: Representatives overseeing other area political subdivisions, including Erie Township and Gibsonburg, have also expressed interest in landing a medical marijuana cultivation center to their areas while many other organizations — including, Huron Township, Norwalk, Oak Harbor, Perkins Township, Port Clinton and Vermilion — have a ban.