Thursday, June 8, 2017
By Sarah Lehr
City council members are mulling a proposal from a company seeking to grow medical marijuana in the city.
Ken Krismanth, CEO of Somerset Cultivation Group LLC., gave the company’s first public presentation to council Wednesday evening. Council had previously heard from the company during a closed-door executive session last month.
Krismanth, also a principal and CEO at Signet Corporate, created the Akron-based Somerset Cultivation Group to apply for a Level-1 medical-marijuana cultivation license from the state.
The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program will only give out up to 24 cultivation licenses, including 12 Level-1 licenses for facilities up to 25,000 square feet.
There will be separate licenses awarded to medical-marijuana processors and to the dispensaries that distribute the drug to patients.
The state will grant provisional licenses to cultivators as soon as September. After receiving a provisional license, a business has less than a year to begin operating.
Krismanth said Somerset Cultivation Group plans to purchase property at the CASTLO Industrial Park on South Bridge Street. He said the facility would employee between 25 and 30 full-time workers, with the possibility of more jobs.
He emphasized state-mandated security measures that will be in place, including 24-hour camera surveillance, employee background checks and tracking of every seed.
Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker supports the company’s plans.
Medical marijuana became legal in Ohio last year, but cities, villages and townships have the option to ban or limit the number of medical-marijuana facilities in their communities.
Poland, Canfield and Austintown have prohibited medical-marijuana businesses, though it is still legal to use medical marijuana there.
Conversely, legislators in Youngstown, Campbell and Lowellville have approved nonbinding resolutions as a show of support for medical-marijuana growers.
Struthers Councilman Robert Burnside, chairman of the economic development committee, said a cultivator could be a valuable source of tax revenue to the city, but added he would like to hear more feedback from residents.
Councilwoman Carol Cryzter said she is inclined to support the plan, though she said it would be a challenge to educate residents about the issue before Somerset submits its application. The state will accept Level-1 licenses between June 19 and 30.
Councilman Michael Patrick said residents may have misconceptions about the drug that are unrelated to medical-marijuana operations.
“I think talking to the public and educating them is an important part of the process,” Patrick said.