By Sarah Lehr
City officials are hopeful that a medical marijuana business will bring jobs and tax revenue to Campbell.
City council unanimously approved a resolution this week backing one company’s plans to grow marijuana at the former site of the Calex Corp. plant on Wilson Avenue.
Council’s nonbinding resolution is a show of support for OH-Gro LLC. To proceed with the plan, the company will need a Level-1 cultivator license from state regulators.
The licensing process is highly competitive.
The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program will award 24 licenses to medical marijuana cultivators statewide, including 12 licenses to Level 1 cultivators. Level 1 cultivators can grow marijuana on up to 25,000 square feet, while Level 2 cultivators can use up to 3,000 square feet.
The initial Level 1 cultivation license is $180,000, along with a $20,000 application fee. It also will cost $200,000 for a business to renew the license annually.
An Ohio law legalizing medical marijuana took effect statewide in September 2016. It will not be fully operational, however, until the September 2018 deadline to finalize the state’s regulatory apparatus.
Representatives from OH-Gro LLC told city council the medical marijuana plant would create 50 jobs initially, with more jobs added over time.
Campbell Mayor Nick Phillips, who supports the company’s plans, campaigned on bringing businesses back to the shrinking city.
“I think it’s a win-win situation for us, a small town,” said 2nd Ward Councilman Bryan Tedesco, adding that Campbell is desperately in need of new employers.
Tedesco believes medical marijuana can be a safer alternative to opioids for managing pain.
“I’m willing to do anything,” he said. “I’m tired of so many kids passing away.”
Tedesco said he is impressed with the company’s security plans and is confident medical marijuana will be properly regulated. Still, he added that he plans to visit one of the company’s facilities to learn more.
Five prospective businesses have presented to Youngstown City Council, seeking to grow marijuana in that city.
Local lawmakers in Austintown and Canfield have barred the facilities from their communities. Officials in Hubbard city and Poland village are considering following suit with their own bans.
The bans do not prevent people from using medical marijuana in those areas if they legally purchased the drug elsewhere.