Possible medical marijuana facilities in Hudson will have to wait.

Council members Feb. 7 voted 5 to 1 on the first reading for extending the moratorium on applications or granting zoning certificates for any building, structure, use or change that would enable the cultivation, processing, distribution or sale of medical marijuana for six more months.

Council member Casey Weinstein said he was against the moratorium.

"This is happening in our state," Weinstein said. "Nation-wide medical marijuana is here or coming, and it's not destroying communities."

Colorado's economy is thriving, he said.

"It's something that we don't have to abate for tax purposes," Weinstein said. "It brings in a lot of funding to communities."

Funding raised from the marijuana business can go toward fighting "real" drug problems, he said.

"I think it's ridiculous that we're not accepting applications for this in the city," Weinstein said. "I'm not going to sit around quietly and let us put this off or kill this industry in Hudson."

Council President Hal DeSaussure said the state does not have all the regulations in place yet.

"Until the state puts in order exactly how this is going to look and feel, I'm in favor of a moratorium," DeSaussure said. "It makes sense to me to see how things are going to shake out in Columbus."

Like other Ohio communities, Council adopted the original moratorium Sept. 6, 2016, but it would have expired March 6, 2017, before a third reading of the new ordinance.

At the Feb. 7 Council meeting, Council member Alex Kelemen asked City Solicitor Todd Hunt if someone could use the one-day lapse before the third reading on March 7 to apply for a permit.

The purpose of the legislation is to prevent an application for a facility to grow marijuana, which is permitted under Hudson's Land Development Code now, Hunt said.

"If they put an application in (before third reading) and Council says they don't want it, the applicant could argue they were grandfathered in," Hunt said. "It was not prohibited when they filed their application."

Kelemen said the topic was a large part of the Jan. 30 forum he had for his Ward 3 District.

"We had several interesting points of view," Kelemen said. "One was from a local author, Susan Terkel, who authored a book "Should Drugs be Legalized?"

The Ohio Legislature already decided last year that medical marijuana was to be legal in Ohio, Kelemen said at his forum.

"The only decision left to municipalities was to allow its manufacturing and retail locations or dispensaries in their communities," he said.

The rules of how the marijuana law would work were not in place when the law was passed, and the implementation has been rolling out as the months pass but doesn't need to be fully operational until September 2018, Kelemen said.

"As far as manufacturing is concerned, it seems to me that because of the timing of permits and lead time to build, a six-month moratorium is tantamount to saying we don't want the facility," Kelemen said. "I should also add that in 2015 there was a state ballot issue that would have legalized marijuana both medically and recreationally. The number of proposed grow facilities was considerably less than in the current law, but one of them would have been in Hudson. Hudson stood to gain significantly more in taxes under that proposal than it would now. The issue failed in Hudson 76 to 24 percent."

Ohio is the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana. Its law was fast-tracked by a Republican-controlled legislature after it appeared all but inevitable voters would do it if lawmakers didn't, according to a Sept. 9, 2016 Associated Press story in the Record Courier.

The law allows people with certain listed ailments, including AIDS, Alzheimer's, cancer, PTSD and pain, to begin using marijuana immediately. But it's unclear where they would legally get it, according to the AP story.

Cultivators, processors, dispensaries and testing laboratories have yet to get their marching orders. And about a dozen mostly small communities have declared moratoriums on dispensaries that could affect access even after the rules are written, according to the AP story.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP