Aurora -- At its Sept. 12 meeting, City Council passed a moratorium not to exceed 90 days on the issuance and processing of any permits for medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation or processing sites in the city.
The moratorium is intended to buy Council time to decide how to regulate sites associated with medical marijuana, which is now legal in Ohio, according to Law Director Dean DiPiero.
An ordinance which would permanently ban businesses associated with the cultivation, dispensing and processing of marijuana for medical purposes is on Council's current agenda.
"It's rare, but the Ohio legislature actually gave us the right to do things here," DiPiero told Council on Sept. 12. "You can regulate the location and that type of thing. It also gives cities the right to ban it if you wish."
Ward 3 Councilwoman Reva Barner asked DiPiero, "Obviously, since this is so new to us, could you give us an idea of recommendations of what other cities are doing?" she asked DiPiero, who said cities vary in how they are addressing the medical marijuana issue.
"I think the legislation in front of you is a good idea from a policy standpoint," he said, referring to the prohibition of marijuana businesses. "There are others [cities] that are going to regulate them."
There may be some potential reasons to consider regulations rather than an outright ban, he added. There could be an uptick in tax revenue if the businesses are allowed to operate, and there may be residents who are supportive of medical marijuana use.
"There are some cities that don't know what they're going to do at this point, and they've enacted moratoria to give them a chance to really debate the issue," said DiPiero.
"There are others that are going to regulate them because they believe that there are some public policy reasons to allow it."
The medical marijuana law, passed in the spring, calls for a new, state-level Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee to make recommendations for allowing use of the drug by approved patients, with ultimate regulatory control in the hands the Ohio Department of Commerce and the state pharmacy and medical boards.
Rules would cover the cultivation, processing and sale of the drug. Doctors would have to direct medical marijuana use for their patients, with limits on the amount of the drug they could possess.
The state law lists more than 20 medical conditions eligible for marijuana use. It bans smoked forms of the drug and home-grown supplies.
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