City councilman in favor of pot ban applies for marijuana grow license

MONROE, Ohio — A Fairfield city councilman who voted against allowing medical marijuana businesses in his home city is among the 185 applicants seeking one of the limited state-issued cultivation licenses.

Chad Oberson, a Fairfield City Council member and owner of Oberson's Nursery and Landscapes, is one of four companies proposing a marijuana grow site in Monroe.

Oberson applied for the license in June and his plan is to build a multimillion-dollar indoor grow facility on a 32-acre piece of vacant land on Baker Drive off North Garver Road.

It could take months before Oberson knows if he is one of the 12 businesses to receive a Level I license, which would permit up to 25,000-square-foot marijuana cultivation area. Part of his application submission, Oberson said, included blueprints for his proposed facility and business plan.

Oberson was part of a 6-0 vote in April to ban the cultivation, production and selling of medical marijuana in the city.

He said his application in Monroe was purely “a business decision.”

“Economics behind it, you have to produce,” he said. “And if you don’t produce, the state will look at removing your license.”

“I’m one of the few sole owners,” he said of his application, “and I don’t think that’s going to hurt me. That’s a big a benefit in the world of business.”

Fairfield is one of two Butler County municipalities that has banned the cultivation, production and selling of medical marijuana. The Middletown City Council has also imposed a near-identical ban on the industry.

Oberson said he was considering applying for a marijuana license when the Fairfield City Council debated the issue in mid-April, but there was not as much information available then as opposed to when he applied for the license in June.

Three other Butler County communities — LibertyRoss and Fairfield townships — have instituted moratoriums, waiting to find out more as rules and regulations are drafted. The city of Hamilton has banned only dispensaries of medical marijuana.

Rules for medical marijuana are set to be adopted by the state on Sept. 8.

Monroe’s development director, Kevin Chesar, told the Journal-News that Oberson, or any business in any industry, would have to go through the formal zoning application process before building or renovating space. Oberson said he’s been in frequent communication with the city of Monroe.

There are also 12 Level II licenses to be issued by the state, which would permit up to a 3,000-square-foot cultivation area.

Ohio passed a law in June 2016 allowing medical marijuana to be prescribed to patients under certain conditions.