Hemp plant

Princeton's Board of Zoning Appeals will conduct a public hearing concerning an application by a Princeton resident for a variance to operate a dispensary for hemp. 

PRINCETON — A public hearing has been scheduled before the city of Princeton’s Board of Zoning Appeals about a proposal to operate a hemp dispensary on Mercer Street.

The Board of Zoning Appeals is meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m. June 19 in the council chambers of the New Municipal Building at 800 Bee Street, for a public hearing, according to a notice published in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. This public hearing concerns an application by Ryan Brooks, a Princeton area resident, for a variance to operate a hemp dispensary at 929 Mercer Street.

“Basically, we don’t have a category,” City Clerk Kenneth E. Clay said about the application. “It’s (hemp dispensary) is not in one of the zoning categories.”

“We haven’t been confronted with this before, so we had to put it into the category of getting a variance,” Clay said.

The Zoning Code of the City of Princeton requires a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals to operate a hemp dispensary in the Commercial (C-1) in the city, according to the public notice.

Brooks said Tuesday that his business, Coal Country Cannabis, would sell products made from hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products.

“Everything we’ll be carrying from our store is hemp derived,” he stated. “We’ll be carrying hemp and hemp-derived products.” He later added, “It’s not going to be a head shop. We’re not going to have bongs all around or anything like that.”

CBD products derived from marijuana are illegal, but CBD products derived from hemp are legal, Brooks said.

“No, it doesn’t get you high,” he stated when asked about the substance CBD. “CBD doesn’t get you intoxicated at all, basically.”

Coal Country Cannabis is a brand that is being built in southern West Virginia, Brooks said.

“So right now we have stores that carry our product, which carry Coal Country Cannabis products,” he stated. “Right now, we’re kind of a wholesale business, but we want to have a retail location on Mercer Street now only to have a place where people can come and get our products, but to have distribution as well. We have customers in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.”

Brooks said he and his wife, Laura, hope to open the store by fall this year or by the spring of 2020.

“We want to start work as soon as we get approved for zoning, but I’d say it’s going to take about six months,” he stated.

The company’s customers range in age from 55 to 65 years old, he said.

“As far as our company, we don’t promote smoking or anything like that. We’re all about healthy living, living longer not shorter.”

Products would include items such as pain cream and “gourmet edibles,” Brooks said. The store would stock CBD products from other companies as well.

Brooks said he started using cannabis products about two years ago when he had cancer, and it helped him with pain and anxiety. Laura Brooks said she started using the CBD products, too, and it helped her with depression and anxiety.

“The big reason we’re doing this is because of the opioid crisis,” Ryan Brooks said. “We plan to give 5 percent of profits to local rehab and addiction programs.”

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com