WOODMERE — Local businessman Tom Hobson recently inquired about opening a medical marijuana business in Woodmere. He is only testing the waters about a possible location in the village, Mayor Ben Holbert said, and has not chosen a definite storefront yet.
Mr. Hobson is the owner of Aerodyne Environmental, Inc. and Abanaki Corporation, both in Auburn Township. Aerodyne is an industry leader in air handling systems and Abanaki is a manufacturer for industrial oil skimmers. He contacted Mayor Holbert in early May to see if the village officials would be willing to have a medical marijuana dispensary in Woodmere.
Mr. Hobson also owns Wellspring Fields in Ravenna, the first company allowed to grow cannabis under Ohio’s medical marijuana law, according to a 2018 report. A possible store in Woodmere would only sell medical marijuana to customers with a prescription, not grow cannabis plants.
“We wanted to see if there would be any political or community objections,” Mayor Holbert said last week. “I did not get a flat-out rejection. I wanted to send it through the Safety Committee. I wanted to see if [Police] Chief [Sheila] Mason had a problem with it, and she did not.”
Mayor Holbert presented the business proposal to the safety committee at their May 25 meeting. Mr. Hobson was also on the call but did not comment during the discussion. The mayor did not use the term “marijuana” or “cannabis” during his presentation. He referred to it as a “medical situation” that sells “a product.” He specified that this is a medical marijuana business after he was questioned by Councilwoman Vivian Walker, who chairs the committee.
The mayor later said that some people may get the wrong impression when they hear the word “marijuana.” He said that he did not want to possibly derail the proposal during the presentation but did not mean to be non-transparent or evasive.
Mayor Holbert said that customers would need to show a prescription to be permitted in the building. He also said that the medical marijuana is secured in a room rather than sitting out on shelves. It would qualify as a medical use under the village’s zoning code, he said, which is one of the permitted uses in the retail business district.
Mr. Hobson advised Mayor Holbert that the business is expected to generate $12 million per year. Village Auditor Phil Foley estimated that the village could receive $122,000 per year in income taxes. Mayor Holbert also said that there would be minimal signage if the business comes to the village.
Council President Nakeshia Nickerson asked how many medical marijuana dispensaries are in Cuyahoga County. Mayor Holbert said that he is aware of one in Garfield Heights. There may be other locations in Cleveland and Lakewood.
“I think we would like more information on how it’s doing in those municipalities,” Ms. Nickerson said. “Have there been any negative effects of it being in the city?”
Mayor Holbert said that there is a strict process through the state to license medical marijuana dispensaries. He plans to send more information to committee members.