Medical marijuana businesses won’t be stopped from coming to Oberlin by the city planning commission — and investors are already taking notice.
The commission voted April 19 to place operations in the city’s M-1 light-industrial district north of East Lorain Street.
That essentially limits potential operations to the industrial park on Artino Street due to state laws that prohibit medical marijuana facilities within 500 feet of any school, church, public library, public playground, or public park.
“It sounds like some of us are more favorable toward it than others, but the general attitude is we’re favorable to it,” said commission chair Matt Adelman.
Fadi Boumitri, a lawyer from Cuyahoga County, was also in attendance before the vote. He claimed to represent an investment group interested in getting behind medical marijuana in Oberlin.
“We’re talking cultivation as well as potentially processing and dispensaries,” he said. “The business would not be a pharmacy. It would be licensed very similarly to a pharmacy and overseen by the state board of pharmacy. It would have requirements where every person who comes through the door must be put through the Ohio state system to determine what other medications they’re on and how often they seek medication. A pharmacist would not be required to be on staff.”
Boumitri declined to name the group he represents.
When asked why his group is taking interest in Oberlin, Boumitri cited its close proximity to Cuyahoga County.
“My group wanted to remain within a short drive of where we’re based in Cuyahoga,” he said. “I came to Oberlin about two weeks ago for the first time in my life and loved the downtown area. My wife and I were hear for a Saturday night event. I looked Oberlin up online and saw news of city council maybe being friendly to this type of business.”
Commission member Tony Mealy said medical marijuana in Oberlin should be regulated similarly to adult entertainment businesses, but his comments did not garner agreement among others in attendance.
“Those two things shouldn’t be put in the same category,” Adelman said. “They’re completely different topics and aren’t related at all. It doesn’t make any sense. I think the state is creating a false stigma with how they’re treating the whole topic. They’re permitting medical marijuana but they’re not really permitting it like other states. Look at Colorado and Oregon. Those states have much wider availability for people. People in Ohio who grow can’t sell anything that’s meant to smoke and are limited to items meant for vaping and consumption.”
The planning commission voted to turn the issue back over to city council, where it’s expected to appear on the May 1 agenda.
Jason Hawk and Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk and @DelozierNews on Twitter.