Coshocton – Local lawmakers say they will await state guidelines before considering whether to encourage or ban medical marijuana businesses inside city limits.
Although a new state law allowing businesses to cultivate, process and sell marijuana for medical use in Ohio takes effect Thursday, regulations on how that will work are not expected to be ready until September 2017, with actual sales likely to begin the following year.
Ohio legislators passed that law in June as House Bill 523.
With that change looming, some Ohio cities have begun discussing how they will adapt locally.
“I think there’s so much yet to be determined. Until I see those things, I don’t want to do anything,” Coshocton Mayor Steve Mercer told council members Tuesday evening during their workshop. “At this point, my position would be to see what the state continues to do.”
Mercer said he has no timeline in which to establish a local approach to the issue.
Although he asked for council members’ input Tuesday, no one commented. For now, no further action is scheduled.
“I would say that since there’s really no timeline that I have, it will all depend on when the state comes out with guidelines on how everything will work,” he said.
Council President Cliff Biggers agreed with Mercer’s stance.
“I think we need to hear a little bit more from the state,” he said. “It’s going to be a question throughout the state.”
Ohios Medical Marijuana Control Program, which will be overseen by the Ohio Department of Commerce and State of Ohio Pharmacy Board, should have rules adopted by September 2017 and should be fully operational in September 2018, according to the programs website.
In the meantime, cities have begun considering their level of local involvement.
The Johnstown Village Council passed an ordinance in August to permit medical marijuana-related businesses to open within that Licking County community. Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner called that stance “an economic development tool.”
City officials in Lancaster are considering making cultivating, processing and dispensing medical marijuana a first-degree misdemeanor, or handling it as a zoning issue through the city planning commission.
Zanesville is examining a one-year moratorium on issuing and processing permits to give the state time to set guidelines before deciding how to proceed with zoning.