Council repeals ban on medical marijuana

By Andrea Cordle

Grove City Editor

Grove City Council has repealed a moratorium on medical marijuana.

In 2016, a state law was passed which allows those with a physician-approved medical condition to obtain and use medical marijuana. The following year, Grove City leaders approved legislation to prohibit the cultivation, processing, or retail dispensing of medical marijuana within the city.

At a meeting last month, Grove City councilman Randy Holt, who introduced the legislation to repeal the moratorium, said it is inconsistent to allow the processing and sale of recreational marijuana, but prohibit it for medical use.

“This prohibition is antiquated and an example of government overreach,” said Holt.

Earlier this year, the city’s administration suggested placing a moratorium on the cultivation, processing, and retail sales of recreational marijuana after Ohio voters approved Issue 2 in November of 2023 to legalize it.

Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said the legislation was introduced to buy time and understand the rules.

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.”

Most council members disagreed and voted against the moratorium.

“The dispensing landscape is changing,” said Holt.

The councilman said he believes new dispensaries will be able to sell both medical and recreational marijuana and business owners will be looking for places to set up shop. He said the state lawmakers will eventually figure out how to issue a sales license and Grove City should not put up an appearance that it is not welcoming to new dispensaries.

“For Grove City to be considered, we just can’t have these prohibitions in place,” he said.

Holt said the city could benefit from additional jobs and tax revenue.

Council president Christine Houk was the only vote against the repeal of the moratorium on medical marijuana.

“If our urgency here in Grove City is tied to getting our piece of the tax revenue pie, I want to point out the possible flaw in making that leap for what appears today to be low-hanging fruit in terms of new revenue,” said Houk.

She said Issue 2 was passed with the understanding that municipalities would be able to make their own decisions.

“Is this the right fit for this community,” asked Houk. “Every choice we make today is shaping the economy of our city.”

Grove City resident Sheri Dunagan said more public input is needed.

“This isn’t as simple as approving a coffee shop or an adult entertainment business,” she said. “Residents have questions and if council cannot get answers, maybe the decision should not yet be made.”

Dunagan suggested forming a committee to answer questions like where a dispensary could operate or how much revenue this could bring to the city.

Councilman Ted Berry said it does not make sense for the city to prohibit the processing or retail sale of medical marijuana when there is no prohibition in place for recreational pot.

“We approved the recreational because the voters said so,” said Berry.

Stage called the repeal premature and confusing.

“Tonight, this does nothing but confuse the public,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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