Medical marijuana grow site to open in Ravenna


The site at 4000 Lake Rockwell Rd. in Ravenna Twp. where FN Group Holdings, LLC, will build a medical marijuana cultivation and processing plant. Taken in December 2017.

A vacant lot in Ravenna Township will become Portage County’s only medical marijuana grow site and processing facility, at least for now, after the state of Ohio announced in late November the 24 companies authorized to produce the now legal substance.

The facility, expected to be active this year, will open at 4000 Lake Rockwell Rd. Tom Hobson of Chagrin Falls owns FN Group Holdings, LLC, along with his daughter, Claire, and son, Spencer. Hobson said a personal stake in the potential benefits of using medical marijuana led him to become involved in the business, which will go by the name Wellspring Fields.

“I have a family member suffering from Parkinson’s disease and another suffering from rheumatoid arthritis,” Hobson said. “I think it is right to allow them to have a safe avenue of relief through medical marijuana.”

The Ohio Department of Commerce announced 12 companies, including Hobson’s, were issued “Level II” cultivator provisional licenses in late November for facilities with up to 3,000 feet of growing space. The facility is expected to employ between eight and 20 employees.

Another 12 companies were issued “Level I” cultivation licenses for up to 25,000 square feet of growing space.

The Hobson’s were each involved in different ventures before coming together to launch this business.

Hobson said his daughter had a great job in the Boston area but wanted to come back home to help take care of her ill grandmother. His son worked in marketing but wanted to strike out in a new field.

This happened around 2015, when a marijuana ballot initiative to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana in Ohio failed. Governor John Kasich, however, signed legislation legalizing medical marijuana in the state June 8, 2016.

Hobson said he is excited to be working with his children.

“I started my first business in my early twenties with the help of my father, so it felt like the stars were aligning for me to be able to start a business with my kids,” Hobson said. “I feel a real connection with my father and understand what he must have been feeling when working with me to start a business.”

Hobson approached the Ravenna Twp. trustees with his business proposal during their March 14, 2017, regular meeting. Trustees Pat Artz and Vince Coia approved the writing of a letter in support of opening the plant.

The trustees approved the location in part because it will be a medical marijuana grow site and processing facility, not a dispensary.

While the rules for medical marijuana are set by the state, Coia said the township put some additional restrictions on the facility, including stringent security requirements and that the site can never be used for retailing recreational marijuana, even if it eventually becomes legal.

Hobson’s business will be open by the state-imposed deadline of September, 2018, but said the challenges to get up and running so soon are “no joke,” since he is faced with erecting a building in the dead of a Northeast Ohio winter.

“This process is a lot of hard work, but we are definitely up to the challenge,” Hobson said. “One thing that has become obvious to us in this process is that Ravenna Township is a great community and a great place to start a business.”

Troy Lee is a writer. Contact him at [email protected].

Paige Brown is a writer. Contact her at [email protected].

Julian Wissinger is a writer. Contact him at [email protected].