The deadline Friday to apply for a state license to serve as a dispensary for medical marijuana came and went without any complaints or concerns expressed to Hillsboro government leaders, according to interviews by The Times-Gazette, while it is believed that one or two such licenses are being sought here.
Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings, city council President Lee Koogler and Law Director Fred Beery all said Friday that no one had expressed concerns, and no council members had brought up the subject or suggested legislation to oppose it, as has been done in numerous communities around the state.
In regard to dispensary, or store, licenses, Highland County is part of what has been designated District 6 in the Southwest region of the state, grouped with Adams and Brown counties. One dispensary license has been set aside for the three-country district.
By comparison, Hamilton County alone has been authorized for three dispensaries, and even other districts with multiple counties – such as Southwest District 2, which includes Darke, Preble and Butler – are designated for two dispensaries.
While 60 dispensary licenses will be issued statewide in the first round, officials expect applications to number in the hundreds. Applicants must submit a $5,000 fee, a detailed business plan, floor layouts, and outline their security arrangements, along with proof of financial solvency and stringent background checks for employees.
Koogler and Hastings both said that one challenge Ohio marijuana businesses will encounter is with the banking industry because of federal guidelines.
The Associated Press reported previously that “marijuana’s prohibition under federal law still presents a serious hurdle for pot-related businesses, which generally can’t accept credit or debit cards due to card companies’ fears about liability for money laundering or other offenses. Many legal pot shops in Washington, Colorado and Oregon … and dispensaries in medical marijuana states keep ATMs on site to facilitate cash transactions.”
Most banking access has been through local credit unions, which limits options for the businesses, the AP reported.
On Wednesday, Greenfield village council attempted to pass emergency legislation banning licensed marijuana cultivators, processors or dispensaries from locating in Greenfield. The ordinance did not gain enough support to pass as an emergency.
Beery said none of the four Highland County communities he represents as a legal advisor – Hillsboro, Lynchburg, Leesburg and Mowrystown – have raised the issue with him.
The Ohio Department of Commerce had set a 3 p.m. Friday deadline for its first round of medical marijuana dispensary licenses, but by early afternoon had extended the deadline to 5 p.m. It is believed that such licenses are being sought by one or two local entities, although that can’t be confirmed until the deadline passes and the applicants become public, probably next week.
For now, the nearest business officially connected to the state’s new medical marijuana project is in Wilmington, where earlier this month Ancient Roots LLC was awarded one of the first 11 licenses to serve as cultivators for medical marijuana, though it could be months before they’re authorized to start producing their crop.
The smaller growers selected at that time can cultivate up to 3,000 square feet, representing a small portion of the anticipated total. Up to a dozen larger growers for sites as big as 25,000 square feet are expected to be announced later this month.
David C. Haley of Lebanon, Ohio, who heads up Ancient Roots LLC, told the Wilmington News Journal earlier this month they are “excited for the opportunity, excited for Ohio and especially excited for the city of Wilmington.” He said he hoped to meet with city building officials to review Ancient Roots’ plans.
Haley said the company will bring in an experienced cultivation manager who currently works in Colorado, but is from the Midwest and was looking to relocate back here.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary. The Associated Press contributed to this story.