Support for proposed German Township marijuana greenhouse argued

Different views offered

By David Coehrs -

German Township residents have given a cool reception to a pitch to grow medical marijuana in their backyard, according to a township trustee.

But the physician proposing a greenhouse operation at County Road 24 to cultivate the plant said the opposite is true.

Trustee Randy Ruffer said Dr. Martha Hackett’s plan was met with about four times more opposition than acceptance at a public meeting held May 30 at Ruihley Park in Archbold. He said the presentation by Dr. Hackett, a township native who owns the property and pitched the idea, also didn’t sway him or fellow trustees Bruce Lauber and Ken Leupp, who must approve it.

“There’s a lot of things that we’re concerned about. There’s a lot of things that we have to weigh out,” he said.

Dr. Hackett, who owns a medical practice in Mentor, Ohio, spoke with her son, Oscar Hackett, to the gathering of about 80 people that included the speakers, township trustees, and Max Nofziger, head of Fulton County’s drug task force. Many of the residents in attendance live near the proposed site.

Dr. Hackett originally proposed the plan at the trustees’ May 22 meeting. The 43,400 square foot greenhouse would be constructed on County Road 24 near County Road G by her son’s company, Greenleaf Gardens, and would utilize about 25,000 square feet for marijuana cultivation.

It would be the first operation in Fulton County to cultivate and process marijuana for medicinal purposes. That involves removing the plant’s psychoactive properties that produce euphoria in users.

Residents’ concerns included the size of the operation, odor problems, plans to compost waste, the need for heightened security, and the type of people the business could attract. They also balked at the Hacketts’ suggestion of drilling a well for necessary water.

“That threw up a lot of flags,” Ruffer said. “(Residents) wondered how that could affect their water.”

He said those in attendance asked Dr. Hackett why she chose her township property for the business. Some suggested she sell the property and use the profits to purchase land for the business at her northeastern Ohio location.

“Why are they moving it out here? These are the questions we’re trying to ask,” Ruffer said.

Dr. Hackett, who extols the healing properties of medical marijuana, said previously she chose the township site because “it’s my home. I was taught to do good. I want to bring a quality product to the area.”

She said she spoke after the meeting with residents who shared personal experiences about the healing qualities of medical marijuana regarding Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Others she spoke with expressed interest in learning more.

“It was a meeting that allowed people to begin to ask questions,” she said.

Those in attendance who radically opposed the greenhouse were concerned about abusing marijuana, she said, adding, “That’s not what we’re about. We were talking about the medical healing potential that has been proven. There’s a whole different side they should open to that would relieve the chronic suffering of families…and all they need to do is educate themselves.”

Dr. Hackett said because medical cannabis has been legalized in Ohio “the train has left the station, and we’re here to try to be a responsible medical force to use this properly.”

German Township is one of several local communities that have passed resolutions opposing medical marijuana operations since they became legal in Ohio last September. However, Trustee Bruce Lauber, who said previously he was receptive to hearing the Hacketts’ proposal, also said the township’s resolution against such an operation can be rescinded.

Ruffer, who had expressed guarded optimism about the proposed greenhouse, said he still has “major questions” about the business. He said, for example, the Hacketts mentioned sharing money with the township but could not offer specific details.

“My personal feeling is, I don’t feel there’s enough to convince us to overturn what we’ve already put on the book,” he said. He added there’s no guarantee the Hacketts would receive a license to build.

The trustees encouraged residents in attendance to respond, and “I have not had any phone calls that were positive,” Ruffer said.

Lauber did not return calls requesting comment. Leupp could not be reached.

The trustees were scheduled to continue discussion of the proposal at a meeting Monday. Because the Hacketts face a deadline on the project, a decision by the trustees is expected in June. Ruffer said if no decision is reached, “it’s probably a ‘no’ decision to them.”

Different views offered

By David Coehrs

Reach David Coehrs at 419-335-2010

Reach David Coehrs at 419-335-2010