Representatives from the Medical Marijuana Dispensary, The Botanist, addressed City Council at their November 15 Building and Building Codes Committee meeting about bringing a medical marijuana dispensary to North Royalton.
Although Ohio has a medical marijuana law, passed in 2016, the city of North Royalton currently has laws that place restrictions on the production and distribution of marijuana. Council passed legislation in 2018 that prohibits “ all cultivators, processors, or retail dispensaries licensed under Chapter 3796 of the Ohio Revised Code within the city,” according to Ordinance 18-31.
Currently, the Ohio law has provisions on those who can obtain a medical marijuana card. Only certain medical conditions make it allowable. The Ohio Debilitating Conditions List include the following: AIDS-HIV, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, Arthritis, Cancer, Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, Crohn’s Disease, Complex regional pain syndrome, Epilepsy or Another Seizure Disorder, Fibromyalgia, Glaucoma, Hepatitis C, Huntington Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic, Intractable and Severe Pain, Parkinson’s Disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Sickle Cell Anemia, Spasticity, Spinal Cord Disease or Injury, Terminal Illness, Tourette’s Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury, Ulcerative Colitis. In addition to a qualified diagnosis, the patient must be an Ohio resident, over 18 years of age, and have a recommendation from a certified Ohio Medical Marijuana Doctor.
Kate Nelson, from Acreage Holdings, owner of The Botanist dispensaries, gave an overview of how the company came to be, after the legalization of medical marijuana in the state of Ohio, in 2016. It’s a big industry in Ohio,” she said. “We have had a couple of years to see how the business operates.” She said she has been involved in the industry for the last six years.
When asked why they would be interested in opening in North Royalton, Nelson responded by saying that “we want to be in a community where we know there is a need.” She said that there are about 18,000 active patients in the proximity of North Royalton. “There is a massive need in this area.”
Acreage Holdings has 23 operational dispensaries in nine states and nine cultivation and processing facilities. The Botanist is one of seven active brands. The first Botanist opened in Wickliffe and now others are located in Cleveland, Akron, Columbus and Canton.
According to their website, “the Botanist was born from a desire to serve the needs of people who seek potential relief and balance, and we are proud to offer a variety of medical cannabis-derived products and services for our Medical Card Holders. We are here to help guide our guests as they discover medical cannabis and the potential power of herbal wellness through medical cannabis expertise and education.” They offer products such as flowers, vape and edibles.
Most locations are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nelson explained the multiple layers of security that are included as part of the day-to-day operations of each location. “We have not had too many things that require police intervention,” said Nelson, with “multiple levels of security. She noted that the doors are locked at all times. A security guard has to let each person into the building. “There have not been any incidents with the transportation of product,” said Nelson.
Nelson said that the average staff of each location is between 25 to 30 people, with an average payroll tax of $200-250,000 per year generated. The company is looking for an existing building and it would be expected to take about five months to start up. The businesses are intended to blend into the area, said Nelson. The location must be at least 500 feet away from any park, school or day care, she said.
The question of the impact on police services was raised. North Royalton Police Chief Keith Tarase stated that he has visited one of the locations. “It’s one of the most secure business I’ve ever seen.” He went on to say that “I talked to Chief in Wickliffe and he had zero complaints and zero calls for service. As far as services, I’m not concerned.”
Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz said that the business “is more secure than many other types of businesses, with strict state regulations.” He said that if Council wished to pursue this, they have some legislation from other cities to put in safeguards. “This could be an opportunity for the city and I’m always looking for opportunities. . . If a pharmacy wanted to come here, I don’t think people would complain. In reality, it’s a lot of the same thing.”
North Royalton Law Director, Tom Kelly, was asked what the possible implications would be if this business was established in North Royalton and, possibly in the future, the state of Ohio changes its law to allow for recreational marijuana. He stated that currently, “the regulatory aspect of the medical marijuana pharmacy is entirely controlled by the state.” He added that “It’s my guess that if the state opens up to recreational use establishments, that the state legislators would have to make a determination on a state-wide basis, whether the existing pharmacies could be transformed.” Kelly said that they will consider the question, as they prepare legislation.
Ward 1 Council Rep John Nickell made a motion to draft an amendment to the standing legislation.

Contributing Writer