A West Chester Twp. business owner has informed officials he wants to open a marijuana cultivation business here, but says he won’t force the issue if the township decides to ban such businesses.
David Haley told trustees Tuesday that he wants to locate in the township because he already owns a pharmaceutical business here and thinks West Chester Twp. should get the tax benefit.
West Chester Twp. and Oxford are among Butler County communities that haven’t come out with moratoriums or bans on such businesses.
“I have no interest in trying to force my way into a community that either just hasn’t really thought it all the way through or if they are not 100 percent clear on which direction they want to go…,” Haley said. “I’m not here with a team of attorneys to tell me what my rights are or to tell you what my rights are in trying to start this business.”
West Chester Twp. trustees elected Tuesday not to take any action on medical marijuana businesses the state has sanctioned, saying they need more time to educate themselves on medical marijuana.
Haley is interested in opening a level 2 cultivation business — maximum 3,000 square feet — in an industrial area.
“I’ll be utilizing greenhouses to actually grow the cannabis, completely enclosed,” he said. “No one will know what is going on at this location by simply driving by or walking by. It will be out of sight.”
Trustee Board President Mark Welch was leaning toward a moratorium — or temporary ban — on medical marijuana businesses Tuesday night, but his two fellow trustees said they wanted to wait. It would have required a unanimous vote.
Township Administrator Judi Boyko reminded the trustees they have used moratoriums previously when studying issues.
“The rules have been established for the cultivators so tomorrow someone could come in for a permit,” she said. “As long as they meet the zoning provisions and requirements for zoning standards, a certificate would have to be issued.”
Welch said on Wednesday he is worried someone might do exactly what Boyko said, because a temporary moratorium wasn’t put in place.
“At this point we’ve kind of left it wide open…,” he said. “A moratorium is a tool, we’re not saying we’re not going to permit it, we’re just saying let’s investigate it. Let’s not be in a hurry about this. Let’s cross our T’s, dot our I’s. Let’s understand fact versus fiction so we can move forward in a reasonable way that makes sense.”
Trustee George Lang told the Journal-News he plans to read the regulations for cultivation and might back instituting a moratorium at the next trustee meeting if he doesn’t like what he sees.
“I said give me two weeks to study the state (regulations) and if I don’t think there are enough common sense regulations built in or restrictions built in, then I’ll consider a moratorium,” Lang said. “So we can have time to figure out if there’s any more regulations or restrictions we want to put on top of that.”
Trustee Lee Wong said he doesn’t want to make the same “big mistake” they made when they placed a moratorium on drug rehabilitation facilities. They were sued and settled with Dr. Mohamed Aziz over turning a former nursing home on Ohio 42 into a drug rehabilitation center.
Wong said they need to hear from experts on both sides of the medical marijuana issue and see what the state regulations say before they try to craft any limitations.
“I’m not an expert in that area, is it good or bad, we’re going to hear both sides and then we will decide which way we are going to go…,” Wong said. “I just don’t want to put the cart before the horse.”
Ohio is still deciding how many dispensaries and testing laboratories will be allowed, but said earlier this month there will be 24 cultivator licenses — 12 large and 12 smaller operations — to begin with.
Hamilton, Middletown and Fairfield have banned the sale of the drug and Liberty, Fairfield and Ross townships have placed moratoriums on the industry as they see how the rules roll out.
The law doesn’t permit smoking pot but permits vaporizers, patches, edibles and oils and the program will be implemented in September 2018.
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