OH: New Philadelphia City Council Nixes Growing, Selling Pot In City


New Philadelphia – Medical marijuana is legal in Ohio starting Thursday, but you won’t be able grow or sell pot products in New Philadelphia.

New Philadelphia City Council members passed an ordinance by a 5-2 vote Wednesday that outlaws medical marijuana cultivators, processors and retail dispensaries from being operated anywhere within the city. The action came the day before the Sept. 8 date on which medical marijuana becomes legal in the Buckeye State.

Council held a public hearing Wednesday evening, and voted on the issue immediately after.

Of the 14 area residents who attended the public meeting that lasted about a half hour, 10 gave their input to council, a majority of them in favor of medical marijuana being grown and sold in New Philadelphia.

Natalie Napier, who held her epileptic toddler daughter in her right arm as she addressed council, said medical marijuana would help treat her daughter’s seizures.

“She has them every morning, full body, and her right arm gets paralyzed after every one,” Napier said. “If we had a dispensary here, I could easily go and get her some (marijuana), if it worked. Making us travel all the way to Canton, all the way to Zanesville, all the way somewhere else, you’re just putting it more on me and (my daughter). She doesn’t deserve that.”

Other residents in favor of medical marijuana in the city said outlawing it will drive business elsewhere and turn down economic development, allowing consumption could turn away drug users from opiates and the drug could help people with chronic pain.

Jodi Salvo, coordinator of the Tuscarawas County Anti-Drug Coalition, spoke out against pot dispensaries in the city. She said nearly all of the 26 states that have approved medical marijuana have experienced an increase in youth-use rates.

“The potency of marijuana continues to rise. It is not in a controlled medical form as of yet,” Salvo said.

The levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC – the principle substance in marijuana – would be at 35 to 70 percent, Salvo said. Marijuana being sold in New Philadelphia commonly has a THC level of 12 to 17 percent.

“Anytime that we have increased access and increase availability of any drug, we have increased use,” said Salvo. “I think we need a lot more research before we would say hey, let’s create a dispensary in our town. We have a drug problem already. if we would create more access in our communities, we would have more drug use.”

Speaking in favor of outlawing medical marijuana, other residents said pot would raise crime and outlawing the drug now would give the city more local control when federal lawmakers consider the marijuana issue over time.

During the special council meeting, council members gave their opinions on the topic and reactions to what some of the members of the audience said earlier.

Council members Rob Maurer and Aimee May gave the two votes against outlawing medical marijuana.

“My casting a ‘no’ vote comes down to one simple question: Do you think banning dispensaries in New Philadelphia is going to prevent (people) from going to another community to get their prescription filled and bring it back to their home in New Philadelphia?” Maurer said. “So why would we ban it?”

He added that people shouldn’t mix a criminal ideal with the intended medical purpose of the drug.

“We’re not talking about drug addicts here,” Maurer said. “We’re talking about people that clearly need medication.”

May said she strongly believes pot would be a benefit to people with cancer or epilepsy.

“I truly believe that this does have medical benefits, and I have also talked to several doctors that also believe it,” she said.

Councilman John Zucal spoke in favor of passing the ordinance to outlaw growing and selling pot for medical use. He said state lawmakers acted too swiftly when passing House Bill 523 without taking the time to do the “necessary homework” on it.

Zucal, also a principal at Central Elementary, said he has visited Denver and spoke with educators in Colorado about the marijuana issue. He said he learned that there was “a dramatic increase” in the use of pot being brought into schools by students, even in the form of snack foods.

“As an elementary principal, that concerns me,” Zucal said. “It concerns me that we have not done the vetting process necessary, at any level, to jump right in on this.”

Council members also gave a first reading to an ordinance that prohibited the use of medical marijuana by city employees, and the use of medical marijuana on public properties. The ordinance was held for a second reading.

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Full Article: New Philadelphia City Council Nixes Growing, Selling Pot In City
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