BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Brian Kessler, a Boardman native with a real interest in the passage of State Issue 3, laid out what he called the benefits of legalizing marijuana in Ohio, saying there are ways to regulate the drug and make it safe.
“Just like beer, when you go to beer, it doesn’t hurt you,” he said. “You know that what’s in it isn’t moonshine, you know that what’s in it has a label on it from the federal government or the government saying this is safe.”
Kessler, a 1976 Boardman High School graduate, stands to make a profit if State Issue 3 does pass — as the lead man of SBL Venture Capital in Los Angeles, Ca., one of his company’s investments is in marijuana.
“We’re now actively involved with the grow that’s 20 miles outside of Canfield… in Alliance,” he said.
Kessler is not new to the business world. His father patented the Hula Hoop, and Kessler himself has invented 2,500 products — many of which were invented during his ownership of Maui Toys, the nation’s largest manufacturer of outdoor summer products. Kessler sold Maui, but a warehouse remains on Crecent Street near downtown Youngstown.
Now, he is setting his sights on the business of marijuana and working to ensure that it is legalized in Ohio. If State Issue 3 passes, 10 grow sites will be allowed around the state — one of which is the Alliance grow site. The group Responsible Ohio, which organized Issue 3, approached Kessler about investing in the Alliance site and its 27 acres, although Kessler would not specify where it is exactly located.
Although Kessler wants the business to be profitable, he knows that it will not be easy, nor will the money come in quickly.
“The issue of we’re putting up 10 groves, they’re going to grow all this product, we’re going to be multi-millionaires, it doesn’t work that way,” he said. “My other investments, I haven’t made any money yet. I know how hard these businesses are, because it’s one thing to throw a seed in the ground and get something out of it. It’s another thing to get tested safe product.”
For Kessler, the business is not solely about the money. He said he smoked marijuana in college and knows that the drugs on the streets are unregulated, and many are unsafe.
“I didn’t know if I was smoking oregano or PCBs,” he said.
His children, he said, are a major concern.
“If they came to me and said, “Hey dad, should I try this?” I might say, “I’d rather you didn’t.” But, that’s probably not going to happen,” he said. “They’re going to be exposed to it… But at least I’m not worried that, ‘Oh my god, this thing could kill them.'”