LODI — Two companies have approached Village Council multiple times since February to discuss licensing to grow marijuana for medical use.
The companies are CropKing of Lodi and Clean Green Farms LLC, which is based in Michigan.
CropKing is a 35-year-old greenhouse and hydroponic supply company with more than 150 years of agriculture experience, co-owner and president Paul Brentlinger said. The company helps people “with no concept of agriculture” to grow vegetables and other crops.
In May, Mayor Rob Geissman said Clean Green Farms owner Daniel Travagliante asked Council about a local moratorium.
More than 50 municipalities in Ohio, including Brunswick Hills Township, the cities of Medina and Wadsworth, have approved moratoriums ranging from six months to two years on issuing permits and licenses issued for medical marijuana-related businesses.
Lodi Council has taken no such action.
Geissman said Council members at first “felt negative” toward the cultivation concept, but have been exploring the idea to learn more about it.
Travagliante said he believed Council members were “receptive” and “welcoming” of the cultivation idea. He said Geissman had questions and he provided answers.
“We want to make people feel as comfortable as possible,” he said.
Ohio is among 29 states to approve medical marijuana. Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 523 a year ago this month.
The law makes it legal for doctors to recommend medical marijuana use for patients with various medical conditions. The law also allows municipalities to limit where medical marijuana businesses can locate and to prohibit them completely.
Clean Green Farms said it is interested in a 24,000-square-foot vacant facility at 120 West Drive, which is next to CropKing at 134 West Drive.
Seven years ago, Travagliante said he moved to Michigan with his wife, Alyson, both originally of Brunswick, to learn about marijuana cultivation.
Now that the chance is available, he said they want to bring back what they’ve learned to Ohio.
“We want to come back (home),” he said.
Crop King’s Brentlinger said his parents, Marilyn and Dan, opened the business in 1982. Since his father’s passing in 2005, Brentlinger and his brother, Mark, have co-owned the business with their mother.
He said CropKing has customers in all 50 states and internationally.
If the cultivation license is granted, he said he expects about 40 jobs to be created.
While the businesses would be located next to each other, Travagliante said he has not met or spoken with CropKing, but is aware Brentlinger is applying for a cultivation license.
Brentlinger said if the licenses are awarded, he would be supportive of Travagliante’s business. He also said one of CropKing’s goals is to build relationships with other cultivators around the state.
CropKing’s headquarters is about 30,000 square feet he said, with the greenhouse about 3,000 square feet. The request for a license would be for 25,000 square feet for cultivation.
No more ‘black market’
Brentlinger said the challenge in Ohio is commercializing what historically has been a “black market” industry.
“People who have true experience (cultivating marijuana) are doing this in the black market,” he said.
He said he and his 30 employees would experiment to find the best practices for growing and assess how the company would fit with the medical marijuana industry,
Brentlinger said he is a member of a group that will apply before the June 30 deadline for a Level I cultivation license from the state.
According to the Ohio Department of Commerce website, the department may award up to 12 “Level I” licenses and up to 12 in the “Level II” category.
Level I cultivators would operate an area up to 25,000 square feet. Permits for Level II would be for an area of 3,000 square feet.
The application fee for Level I is $20,000, an initial license fee is $180,000 and an annual renewal fee is $200,000.
Level II fees are $2,000 for the application, $18,000 for an initial license fee and $20,000 for an annual renewal fee.
Fees are nonrefundable.
Clean Green Farms applied for a Level II cultivation license, meeting the deadline of June 16.
Initially, Travagliante estimates there could be about 11 employees needed, with a possibility to double that after expansions can be applied for beginning after Sept. 8, 2018, when the program should be fully operational.
Travagliante said he intends to grow organic products and not use hydroponics.
More information about medical marijuana in Ohio is available at www.medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov.
Contact reporter Ashley Fox at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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