Council rejects a moratorium on marijuana

By Andrea Cordle

Grove City Editor

Grove City’s administration introduced legislation that would put a moratorium on marijuana sales and cultivation in the city limits.

At a recent meeting, Grove City Council voted against this measure.

Councilman Randy Holt said he does not want to take Grove City out of the running for the social equity and jobs programs that may open.

“By putting a moratorium on it, those places will look elsewhere,” said Holt. “I don’t want to send that signal. If they’re here, they can be here, and we can do business in Grove City.”

In November of last year, Ohio voters approved Issue 2, which allows adults to buy, possess, and grow marijuana for recreational use. This law went into effect on Dec. 7.

Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said the legislation introduced by the administration would just buy time so city officials could understand the rules. He said passing the legislation would have sent a message to state lawmakers that Grove City leaders were frustrated with the lack of progress on the issue.

Stage suggested placing a drop date on the legislation, so the moratorium would end in March of 2025, though he said that date could change based on state advancement of the issue.

According to Stephen Smith, the city’s law director, recreational marijuana is technically legal, however no licenses have been issued and there is no framework in place by the state on how to issue the license.

“It appears legislators are planning to make substantive changes to the law,” said Smith. “If anything, I think it’s become more unclear. This (legislation) would in essence just put it on hold until we knew what the state was going to do.”

While the passage of Issue 2 legalizes the recreational use of marijuana, it does not amend the constitution, giving legislators the ability to make changes to the law.

Smith said the legislation would buy the city time to understand the rules when it is decided.

“It is legal to use marijuana that was purchased from a legal place, but there are no legal places in Ohio right now,” said Smith.

Dr. Marie Schiff, who attended the meeting representing the drug prevention program Start Talking Grove City, said she supports placing a moratorium on the cultivation, processing, and retail sales of marijuana.

“There is no community in this country that has not been touched by addiction,” she said.

Though the measure failed to advance in Grove City, two council members (Rodney Dew and Christine Houk) voted in favor of the moratorium on marijuana sales and processing.

Council president Houk said many residents have questions on the topic but no one has the answers.

“We don’t know the mechanics and we don’t know the framework. We have no business greenlighting something today until we get the answers,” said Houk.

The rest of the council members disagreed.

“If the council puts layers in place, people will see this as once again government subverting the will of the people,” said councilman Mark Sigrist.

Council members did discuss postponing the legislation until July, but decided to move forward without delay.

 

 

 

 

 

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