Marijuana cultivation businesses interested in Middletown, official says

Strawberry Fields opened on Oct. 25, 2019 at 300 N. Main St. in Monroe. The business is now called Columbia Care. ERIC SCHWARTZBERG/STAFF

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Strawberry Fields opened on Oct. 25, 2019 at 300 N. Main St. in Monroe. The business is now called Columbia Care. ERIC SCHWARTZBERG/STAFF

City has had a marijuana moratorium for five years, along with most Butler communities

A couple of marijuana cultivation companies have contacted the city of Middletown about opening businesses there, said City Manager Jim Palenick.

But since City Council created a moratorium for the cultivation, processing or retail dispensing of medical marijuana in 2017, those types of businesses are not permitted in the city, he said during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

When the city receives inquirers from potential businesses, the city tells them they are “blocked” by the legislation that was signed by then-Mayor Larry Mulligan on Feb. 21, 2017, Palenick said.

He told council members “there is interest out there” in building in Middletown if council wanted to consider a policy change. He said the cultivation sites would be highly secured, indoor manufacturing centers.

There are no cultivation sites in Butler County and there are retail dispensing businesses in Monroe and Seven Mile.

Then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law in 2016 a bill that legalized marijuana for medicinal uses, including cancer, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic pain. It allowed multiple forms of medical marijuana to be sold, such as edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing, but smoking the plant is not allowed. Neither are home-grow operations.

The City of Lebanon recently extended its moratorium on granting new medical marijuana dispensary permits another six months so city officials could study the matter. The moratorium extension will expire in late August.

The state Board of Pharmacy approved adding 73 more dispensary licenses statewide on April 19, 2021 to the 57 licenses already created. That would bring the total of licenses that could be issued to 130 after the next application round is completed. According to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program’s website, 55 of the original 57 licenses have been awarded.

Warren, Clinton and Clermont counties are in one of the 31 dispensary zones in the state. There is one dispensary in the zone which is located in Lebanon, About Wellness Ohio, 1525 Genntown Drive, Suite B. The next closest dispensary to Lebanon would be Columbia Care, formerly Strawberry Fields, 300 N. Main St. in Monroe.

Staff Writer Ed Richter contributed to this report.

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