Dozens of public officials and advocates gathered in Yellow Springs Thursday to break ground on Ohio’s first medical marijuana-cultivation site.
The project is one of a dozen across Ohio licensed by the state just two weeks ago, and it moves forward amid questions over the fairness of state’s medical cannabis licensing process.
Illinois-based Cresco Labs’ new 50,000-square-foot, $7 million greenhouse will produce pharmaceutical-grade medical marijuana products. The high-tech, environmentally friendly facility will be built on nearly 10 acres of village-owned land near Antioch University.
The company expects to create at least two dozen new jobs next year and add more employees as the facility expands.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, Cresco CEO Charles Bachtell told attendees the company also plans to work with Miami Valley community colleges on workforce development, a strategy he touted as successful in Illinois.
Yellow Springs Village Council President Karen Wintrow says she hopes the project will help spur additional economic growth, industrial and business development in the area.
“Yellow Springs has always had an industrial base. We’ve lost that a little bit, and this will be the ability to bring that back," she says. "And we are really anxious for some economic growth and this is really the perfect project to kick it off.”
Yellow Springs owns another 25 acres adjacent to the Cresco site. Wintrow says the village did not offer the company financial incentives as part of its negotiations. Cresco purchased the land outright, and has committed to paying to extend nearby roads, water and sewer lines and other infrastructure to the facility.
Cannabis medications produced at the Cresco facility in Yellow Springs will be available to eligible patients statewide as early as next summer through Ohio’s new medical marijuana program.
Cresco Labs is also seeking separate dispensary and processing licenses for their cannabis medications. Officials say they plan to submit those applications, which would apply to undisclosed locations outside Yellow Springs, this week.
Pharmaceutical-grade medical marijuana is often prescribed as a liquid, oral spray, skin patch, pill or other forms.
It is often used to treat chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and other conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Cresco officials stress they’re not involved in a recently announced campaign for a 2018 ballot issue that would allow voters to decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana.