OH: Towns Put Brakes On Marijuana Sales, Growth

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While the state prepares to implement a medical marijuana system in Ohio, some municipalities are asking for a timeout to consider restricting the sale or growth of pot in their communities.

Both Swanton and Sandusky recently passed ordinances that call for moratoriums on the cultivation, processing, and the opening of retail dispensaries for marijuana.

The legislation signed by Gov. John Kasich in June allows municipalities to adopt ordinances that “prohibit, or limit the number of cultivators, processors, or retail dispensaries” within their municipal limits. Municipalities cannot, however, limit marijuana research.

Rosanna Hoelzle, Swanton village administrator, said village officials wanted more time to research the law and deliberate whether they wanted to change the village’s zoning code.

“It becomes legal, so what does it mean to our communities?” she said.

Ms. Hoelzle said she didn’t know if village board members would make zoning changes related to medical marijuana, but she wanted time to consider the matter.

The Swanton Area Community Coalition, a drug and alcohol prevention program for youth, approached the village after the state bill was signed.

Andrea Smith, executive director of the group, expressed concerns about medical marijuana and her belief that it will lead to the legalization of recreational pot. Since state implementation is still being developed, she said the local ordinances are a chance to set community guidelines.

“Local governments have the ability to regulate this,” she said. “By doing something now, at least we are putting the power in our hands.”

In Sandusky, which passed a resolution Aug. 22 to place a moratorium on medical marijuana entities for 12 months, city staff will wait for approved state regulations before deciding how city zoning codes should be applied for marijuana, said Casey Sparks, assistant planner.

That might mean zoning that restricts cultivation to less populated neighborhoods, or retail to a business district, among other potential moves.

“The moratorium serves as a time for us to decide what we see as best,” Ms. Sparks said.

Avon Lake, Lakewood, and Fairview Park are communities near Cleveland that have passed moratoriums on medical marijuana in recent weeks. Hamilton banned medical marijuana in 2015. Ms. Smith said she’s also talking to officials in Sylvania and Holland and pushing for similar ordinances there.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Towns Put Brakes On Marijuana Sales, Growth
Author: Nolan Rosenkrans
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Photo Credit: John Woodcock
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