Medical marijuana dispensary possible

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON A LOCAL businessman is planning to open a medical marijuana dispensary, Ohio Valley Medcan, at this former bank building in Lansing if approved by the state of Ohio.

LANSING — Local businessman Ron Naylor believes he has a good chance at getting approved to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Belmont County.

Naylor, who owns and operates Martins Ferry-based Naylor Bros. Towing, Fat Boys Bail Bonding and Naylor Properties, is among the six people who have applied with the state to open such a facility locally. He aims to open a dispensary in a former bank building in Lansing.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy stopped taking applications for medical marijuana dispensary licenses in recent days, receiving 370 as of Nov. 17. Of those 370, the board is permitted to grant up to 60 provisional licenses.

Locally, six different companies or people applied, according to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Board. The state has been divided into districts. Naylor’s proposed dispensary would be located in Southeast 9 district, which is only allowed to have two dispensaries total among the counties of Belmont, Monroe, Harrison and Jefferson.

Three other companies have applied to open in District 9, but they all are proposed for Jefferson County.

“There were others who wanted to apply in Belmont County, but with the restrictions they put on everything, we fortunately were the only team able to put it together,” Naylor said. “They’re only going to give two licenses. I feel we have a great chance to acquire one of those licenses.”

His dispensary would be called Ohio Valley Medcan.

“I don’t think they will put two in Jefferson County. Belmont County is more centrally located — it’s a perfect fit. I think Jefferson County will get one.”

Naylor said he does not know when the final decision will be made, possibly sometime after Jan. 1.

“I’ve been checking my emails daily,” he said.

Naylor said as part of the application, he had to have a signed lease for a secure building. He chose a former Belmont Savings Bank building, located along National Road in Lansing. The building and property currently is being used as space to store used cars.

“It’s a very secure facility. A lot of people don’t understand — there’s no flower or buds involved. It’s oils, gels, pills and topicals,” Naylor said. “People won’t step inside the facility unless they have a medical marijuana card issued by the state of Ohio. They can’t just stop in there to check it out. The state is hoping this will curb the opioid epidemic.

“There’s a lot of people against medical marijuana, but when is the last time you heard about someone getting high (on marijuana) and beating their wife? It doesn’t create violent crimes. … There will be no plants, just extracts.”

Naylor said the proposed dispensary received an OK from the Pease Township Board of Trustees, which provided a letter stating the township does not have zoning related to such businesses.

Pease Township Trustee Mike Bianconi on Friday said the board of trustees has no objections to the dispensary.

“I have no objection to medical marijuana. … If it helps someone, God bless them,” Bianconi said.

Naylor said immediate neighbors of the planned facility have expressed gratitude to him that the former bank property will be cleaned up.

Naylor said the company, Ohio Valley Medcan, is actually made up of a team of people, with him being “the financial backer.”

“I’m not the brains of the operation, but my name got put on everything,” he said. “I was approached about a year ago by a group of people interested in putting together (a dispensary plan).”

To date, he noted, the group has spent $18,000 in just applying with the state. On top of the state’s $5,000 application fee, Naylor said he has spent money on a property survey, as the facility is not permitted to be located within a certain distance of churches, schools or day cares, and on criminal background checks. If approved, the dispensary would have to pay the state a $70,000 operation fee every two years.

Naylor did not want to disclose the names of his partners, but he noted the group includes an accountant, a hospital administrator and a pharmacist, in addition to himself.

Naylor initially approached Martins Ferry officials about opening a dispensary there, since he already owned a building in the city. However, after speaking with city leaders he decided against it.

“We didn’t go any further than talking. The chief, of course, feels strongly about this,” Naylor said, referring to Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland and his stance on marijuana. McFarland also is co-commander of the Belmont County Drug Task Force and helps run the Belmont County Staying Clean Club drug-free group for local school children.

Naylor also looked into rental space in the village of Bellaire, but he decided against locating there. Bellaire Village Council recently voted to enact a ban on any dispensaries for future reference.

Naylor estimates the dispensary will have 1,400 to 1,500 customers per month. He believes his customers will contribute to the local economy positively by buying gas and food in their travels to and from the location.

“These people have legitimate health issues,” he added.

While on his way to the post office, located just a couple blocks from his home, a Lansing resident who declined to give his name on Friday said he was glad to hear a business was planning to re-open the former bank building. The man said he wasn’t opposed to a dispensary opening there, but he noted he missed having a bank to use within walking distance of his house.

According to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Board, other dispensary applications in Southeast 9 district include three in Jefferson County:

∫ Cresco Labs Ohio LLC, Christopher Schrimpf;

∫ Hill Botanicals LLC, also known as One, Jonathan Yoder; and

∫ Ohio Valley Natural Relief LLC, Michael Petrella.

Applicants in the Northeast 4 district, including two for Columbiana County:

∫ Farmaceuticalrx LLC, also known as Farmaceuticalrx, Rebecca Myers; and

∫ Ohio Valley Wellness LLC, Jennifer Picha.

The Southeast 8 district, which includes Noble, Guernsey and Harrison counties, will only be allowed one dispensary; however, no one applied to open a dispensary in that district.

State law prohibits dispensaries from being located “within 500 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground, public park or community addiction services provider as defined under section 5119.01 of the Revised Code. In addition, cities, villages and townships may adopt additional regulations to prohibit or limit the number of retail dispensaries.”