EAST LIVERPOOL — Among those vying for one of 24 licenses available in Ohio to cultivate medical marijuana is a company planning to utilize the former Ferro Corporation building for just such an operation.
Mayor Ryan Stovall and Rebecca Myers, founder and CEO of FarmaceuticalRX made the announcement Tuesday, saying the company would be headquartered in the city, cultivating and processing medical marijuana to be sold at retail dispensing centers run by licensed pharmacists.
The 110,000-square-foot building in the East End has been empty about 20 years, and Stovall said when the FarmaceuticalRX proposal came across his desk as seeking a location, he contacted Myers.
With medical cannabis touted as a pain reliever for cancer patients, Stovall said, “We do have a high incidence of cancer in this area. Both of my parents died of cancer. I would have done anything to help their pain or to help anyone else from going through that.”
In addition, he said, the facility has the potential of creating 100 jobs for the area, with Myers saying wages would be in the $14 per hour range.
She said FarmaceuticalRX was “looking for a home in Ohio” and was “specifically looking for a community in Ohio where we could plant the seeds of economic development.”
Passed in 2016, Ohio’s medical marijuana law allows patients with 21 different medical conditions to use cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation, although smoking it is not permitted by the new law.
In June, 185 applications were submitted for one of the 24 cultivator license available, and Myers said, her company is in line for one of the cultivator licenses, which consist of 12 Level I and 12 Level II cultivator licenses, which are based on the size of square footage of growing space.
She said FarmaceuticalRX is medical science-driven company and will bring together the best in the cannabis industry with the best in the scientific world to make therapeutic pills, oils and patches for people.
The company has 10 research and development partners that Myers was not at liberty to name publicly until a license has been granted, but suffice to say they are world renown facilities.
Physician education and training is part of the FarmaceuticalRX program, including implementing programs to promote responsible prescribing of medical cannabis, integrating cannabinoid therapies into clinical protocols and developing dosing protocols.
License recipients will be announced in September, and Myers said everything else is in place, including a lease on the building and an option to buy and if a license is granted, work can begin on the facility.
She said FarmaceuticalRX plans to invest $4 million in the building, transforming 12,000 square feet to the left into a greenhouse, with offices and shipping, packaging and receiving incorporated into the rest of the building.
One of the best greenhouse builders in Ohio is being contracted to build the state-of-the art greenhouse, according to Myers, who said it will have a “living” roof.
Processing operations will be housed in FDA Clean Room-like laboratories.
The rest of the building will receive a new exterior facade, and it will be highly secured with cameras, its own security team and a security plan initiated by a former U.S. Marine.
“There won’t be people breaking into this facility,” Myers stressed.
Employees will have to undergo a background check and cannot be hired if they have a criminal record.
Myers said, “We are a group that has a lot of experience. We are medically driven, combining a pharmaceutical model with a biotech model to create a state-of-the-art research facility in East Liverpool. We’re really excited. We will be great community partners with the city. This could become the top research facility of this kind in the country.”
City Council has taken no action prohibiting medicinal marijuana facilities from locating in the city, as have some communities.
Stovall said that, while council has not met publicly to discuss this proposal, members have been polled individually and have indicated their support. He said council approval is not required for the proposal, as with any business locating in the city, which would only have to obtain the obligatory permits from the Planning Department.
Council recently approved legislation to widen a portion of Ohio Avenue, with no other details provided at that time other than it was for future economic development.
Stovall said council members were aware that action was to widen the separation between a playground located there and the Ferro building, since state law prohibits such a facility from being within 500 feet of a school, church or playground.
More information on the company can be found at FarmaceuticalRX.com.