ELYRIA — Taking one of the first steps toward bringing a licensed medical marijuana dispensary to Elyria, City Council’s Community Development Committee on Monday voted to recommend to the whole of council a conditional use permit for The Clubhouse Dispensary.
Committee members voted to support the conditional use permit for the property at 709 Sugar Lane, and declared an emergency. The project still must have three readings by City Council and a public hearing before final approval, Law Director Scott Serazin said.
The partnership behind the dispensary, NMG Ohio LLC — also known as Nevada Medical Group — already has satisfied “the many requirements the state already has imposed on medical marijuana” businesses, Serazin said.
Despite the remaining steps in the process, “we are ready to open now,” Robert Hasman of Las Vegas, president of Body and Mind Inc. and an investor in NMG Ohio LLC, told the committee.
Hasman told the committee the 4,500-square-foot dispensary at 709 Sugar Lane is a “highly secure” concrete block building that will accept only customers with Ohio-approved medical marijuana cards prescribed by a certified physician.
All customers will be checked for identification and cardholder status before being escorted into the showroom “where a ‘bud tender’ will serve you,” Hasman said. All products are prepackaged and will be inside locked cases for security.
The location includes “state-of-the-art security” and surveillance cameras, a “DEA-rated vault” and “strict inventory control,” Hasman said. The HVAC system and filters will ensure “smell mitigation,” so dispensary products will not be detectable beyond its walls, he said.
The dispensary will employ between 20 and 25 staff including bud tenders, full-time security, compliance officers and bookkeepers. A general manager with three-to-four years experience in Colorado’s medical marijuana industry already has been recruited and has relocated to Ohio to oversee the dispensary.
An assistant general manager, a security employee and four “bud tenders” also have been hired, with more to follow, Hasman said, and “that will grow over time.”
A neon sign already is up on the side of the building. Hasman said the location, which is zoned light industrial, “fits very well for this type of use.”
In response to questions from Councilman Mark Jessie, D-3rd Ward, Hasman said the dispensary will not sell any product that must be burned to be ingested.
Under Ohio law, “you can’t smoke marijuana ... but you can sell marijuana” in a licensed dispensary, he said. Though The Clubhouse is NMG Ohio’s only location in the Buckeye State, “we’d love to expand,” Hasman said.
Mayor Holly Brinda said City Council and administrators had “months of debate” in 2018 over medical marijuana.
“The administration is an advocate for this,” she said Monday. “We are certainly anxious to work with our first dispensary.”
Elyria Police Chief Duane Whitely said his department doesn’t have an issue with the dispensary, has received “no negative feedback” and has done research on how other police departments in states with legal medical marijuana have handled the matter.
“As long as they’re following the law” there shouldn’t be any legal or criminal issues, he said.
Whitely cautioned that the law in Ohio still “doesn’t allow (medical marijuana users) to drive under the influence of marijuana,” even if it is medically prescribed.
If a driver’s marijuana screen is “over the limit, it’s over the limit” and they still will face legal consequences for driving under the influence, he said.
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