Youngstown leaders hear from medical pot groups about growing in city

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Medical marijuana was the only order of business for Youngstown City Council Monday night as it heard from five groups — including three local ones — vying for one of the 24 growers permits statewide under a medical marijuana law signed by Governor John Kasich last June. They’re all hoping to grow medical marijuana right here in Youngstown.

At one point, close to 60 people filled the council caucus room to listen and ask questions following the 15-minute presentations.

As the June 30 deadline to apply for cultivation permits in Ohio inches closer, the number of potential applicants could be in the hundreds.

Of the five groups, two names are well-known — Brian Kessler and Herb Washington.

“I’ve now been involved with projects all over the country in about 27 different states in every different aspect that you can imagine in this space,” Kessler said.

“Before coming here today, I wanted to make sure that one, I didn’t waste your time but more importantly, that I had a partner that has done what I think this community needs,” Washington said.

Each offered their own ideas about where their facilities should be located, how the cannabis would be grown, security, well-being of the community, and revenue.

“From what I’ve heard, a lot of people are using micronized pods. These are full-blown aeroponic systems that we’ll be putting into this facility. There is no dirt,” said Victor Masters, with Silver Rapids.

“I can show you drafts of contacts we have in Pennsylvania and Illinois that show we will both hire locally and provide whether it’s nonprofit or just straight revenue share to the community in which we occupy,” said Terrell Dillard, with Ohio Grown Medicine.

While several local communities have said no to allowing cannabis-growing operations, many people in Youngstown are looking at the job opportunity and growth aspect of the business, including members of council.

“This is medical from every perspective, highly controlled,” Councilman Mike Ray said.

Councilman Nate Pinkard is also okay with it.

“But I’m only the sum of all the numbers. I’m only as good as my constituents want and I’ll rely on their input,” he said.

Others still have plenty of concerns.

“We are burying our children because of the use of heroin. Now we’re opening up, broadening the door that leads them there. This is pure insanity,” Reverend Gary Frost said.

City council used the meeting as an educational tool. Members will now take this information to their constituents and see what they ultimately think of having local medical marijuana sites.