OH: Medical Marijuana Topic Of Oak Harbor Town Hall Meeting


Oak Harbor – As state lawmakers continue to work out the specifics of implementing the legalization of medical marijuana, many municipalities are passing moratoriums, including Oak Harbor, where village officials hope to clarify the purpose behind the temporary hold on medical marijuana businesses.

Its not the villages position to ban medical marijuana for a year, Mayor Joe Helle said Tuesday. The moratorium is just in place to allow us time to react as the state continues its process of enacting its legislation and policies through their channels.

Earlier this month the Village of Oak Harbor unanimously passed a resolution creating a 12-month moratorium prohibiting medical marijuana cultivators, processors and retail dispensaries from opening in the village. Helle noted that the moratorium can be lifted any time if the village council decides to do so.

Hoping to receive input from the public, Oak Harbor is holding a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss the status of the medical marijuana law at the state level, the villages standing moratorium and where the community stands regarding local policy.

This will allow us the opportunity to receive information from the community see what their thoughts and concerns are and then ultimately allow them to help drive the policy the village has going forward, Helle said.

The town hall meeting will be the first of many opportunities for citizens to provide their input, whether positive or negative toward the issue, he said.

Helle noted that earlier drafts of the local resolution originally called for a six-month moratorium, but due to the uncertainty regarding when state officials will finalize how the law will be implemented, the village ultimately decided on 12 months.

The 12 months just gives us ample leeway and ample time to see what state policies are, he said. Hopefully, in that time, it will allow us to enact what the (Oak Harbor) community decides it wants.

There are a lot of administrative details the village will have to work out during that time, primarily with the zoning process, such as a possible variance for cultivation or an area designated for distribution. Those are all things that would have to go before the zoning board, according to Helle.

Some of his own concerns include how the state will determine restrictions on the proximity of medical marijuana businesses or facilities to areas frequented by children, such as schools and playgrounds.

The version of the Ohio medical marijuana law passed and signed by Gov. John Kasich in June already contains restrictions prohibiting any marijuana businesses from being within 500 feet of a school, church, library or public playground, but local municipalities may look to extend that distance.

Helle said the moratorium is not intended drive away new business nor alienate any residents who may benefit from the medical marijuana legalization. He stressed that the moratorium is not an outright ban.

We want to encourage business coming into Oak Harbor, thats been one of my biggest positions, he said. Other than some under-the-radar work, thats something the village itself really hasnt pushed.

Instead, Helle said the purpose of the moratorium is to give village officials time to look over the state policies when they are determined and get feedback from the Oak Harbor community to let them help decide how to handle it locally.

If the community ultimately says, Yes, we want this, and we pass legislation approving that, then well do everything we can to support those sorts of businesses, he said. On the other hand, if the community says, Absolutely not, were overwhelmingly against this, then were obviously not going to.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Medical Marijuana Topic Of Oak Harbor Town Hall Meeting
Author: Jon Stinchcomb
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