A dozen applicants on Wednesday got one step closer to opening retail marijuana facilities in Ontario.
Steven Meland is co-owner of marijuana dispensary Hotbox Farms in Huntington. He submitted four applications in Ontario.
“Ideally we'll be open in the next few months,” Meland said.
The applications come after Ontario voters approved a measure to lift the city's ban on marijuana sales in November. Supporters now hope a three percent tax boost from pot sales will help the city financially.
“I just feel my community can benefit from having the extra revenue from the dispensaries in town and also the extra people in town taking part in commerce and the economy,” Meland said.
But for now, it's a waiting game for Meland and others, largely dependent on Ontario's community development director, Dan Cummings.
“Now, we review these conditional use permits for compliance,” Cummings said.
The review process consists of making sure the desired dispensary locations are one thousand feet away from schools, public parks and public facilities.
“If they meet that, I’ll make a findings fact on that and submit an approval of that to the owners and out to people 300 feet of their facility,” Cummings said.
People near the potential facility then have 12 days to appeal the city's decision.
“If they don’t appeal it then, at that point, my decision becomes final,” Cummings said.
Would-be retailers will then have to apply for state and city licenses before opening.
“The process has been fairly complex from standing in line, to it being kind of up in the air and not knowing what the process was going to be, to having to craft entire site plans, layouts and sometimes we didn’t even have a building that existed so, we had to completely design a building,” Meland said.
As for any financial gain for the city, it's another waiting game. Cummings says it could be at least a month and a half before we see a marijuana dispensary officially opens its doors in Ontario, but it will likely take longer than that, depending on the retailer.