Hopes Of A Medical Marijuana Grow Facility Will Be Newest Garden Of Edon

With only 12 permits to operate a medical marijuana growing operation up for grabs, one group is looking at Edon for a facility.

The Village Council rejected an ordinance May 15 that would have barred such facilities. The lure of 30-50 jobs and the resulting tax revenues it could produce was too strong to overcome.

Administrator Chad Ordway presented to council his dealings with a company which had expressed interest in locating a grow operation in town. The company wanted assurances the village would not prohibit medical marijuana cultivating businesses from locating in town.

Edon and Stryker were the last two communities in Williams County not to pass prohibition ordinances since Gov. John Kasich signed the medical marijuana legislation into law. Both state houses had approved the bill.

The unnamed company has told Ordway it wants to build an enclosed greenhouse facility to grow the marijuana and turn it into oil and pills. The company would provide 24-hour security of its 3-5 acres.

“They are serious about locating here,” Ordway said.

The facility will be for growing and cultivating only as village attorney Tom Thompson said the state law does not permit facilities to sell the product as well. The law also limits the proposed facility to not be within 500 feet of a school, library, or church. So that limits locations to the northern and southern limits of the village.

The facility will employ 30-50 people at an average salary of $50,000, Ordway said. Nothing is certain however. “There’s no guarantee they will choose Edon,” Ordway said.

The decision to vote against the prohibition was not easy for some on council. Council President Lee Lawrence said the issue of medical marijuana has his law enforcement mind stymied. “My upbringing says marijuana is bad,” Lawrence said. “I try to grasp this is not.”

Conversations with area ministers have led Lawrence to understand there’s no sin in drinking, just drunkenness. He’s torn by the matter because marijuana has been shown to help people with glaucoma and with some cancers. “Do I want to be responsible for someone dying in Edon?” Lawrence asked.

The discussion brought out that no other companies have contacted the village about the locations in question. The village’s water and sewer system can handle the increased demand and will be able to clean the effluent coming from the facility, Ordway said.

The proposed facility also opens the door to recreational use some on council said. With other states approving recreational use, what would that mean for Edon?

Council member Gale Horn, an Ohio State Trooper, reminded everyone that, while the state has made medical marijuana legal, it is still banned under federal law. Until that law changes, the feds could come in and shut down such a facility.

While there was some a brief mention of a community-wide referendum, the village attorney reminded everyone that local ordinances cannot supercede state laws.

The facility would cover 3-5 acres and used about 2,000 gallons of water per day. The location would allow for expansion, Ordway said.

The council unanimously approved to suspend the rules of the second reading Ordinance 06-17. The vote was 4-2 (with Horn and Dick Chapin voting aye) to not pass the ordinance.

Ordway will send a letter to the company alerting them of council’s decision.

In other news:

The council’s safety committee will talk with the police chief about what to do with scooters and hoverboards. An issue arose when a complaint was made.

The police discussed the matter with the parents, who said their child should be able to use a scooter on the sidewalks. Village rules only allow bikes.

The village ordinance has not been changed since 2007.

Council member Chip Hulbert said recent efforts to clean up the village parks have been successful. At the May 13 event, 30 people attended.

Administrator Ordway told council it’s time to raise tap fees. The cost of the material ($700) is outstripping the fee ($300).

James can be reached at james@thevillagereporter.com

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