Pickerington City Council considering marijuana legislation

By Lori Smith
Staff Writer

Whether to allow the sale, cultivation and processing of medical marijuana in Pickerington is an issue city council has been contemplating, and at least one resident thinks they shouldn’t let the opportunity go up in smoke.

“Stores are permitted to sell cigarettes and alcohol, which are addictive to many people and are known causes of cancer and other health issues,” resident Dave Gellert told council at its June 5 meeting. “Also, there are many pharmacies that dispense opioids, which have caused a public health emergency. Is the vote on the preconception that marijuana is a gateway drug?”

Gellert argued that the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other “harder” substances.

“Instead of banning medical marijuana in the city limits, you should reach out to cities where medical marijuana is legal,” Gellert said, “and see what they have learned through the process.”

He concluded, “Medical marijuana could be of great benefit to a great many people suffering through chronic pain, PTSD and many debilitating diseases. I do not believe in banning the cultivation, processing and sale of medical marijuana is in the best interest of the citizens of Pickerington.”

Before hearing the second reading of legislation prohibiting marijuana cultivation, processing and retail distribution within the city limits, Council President Jeff Fix said, “I appreciate Mr. Gellert coming here. We understand the state of Ohio has made it legal. I choose to support this ordinance because of the way medical marijuana is sold.”

He said credit cards cannot be used, so it would be inviting a cash-based business to the community, which he said could lead to crime.

“The state of Ohio has spoken,” he said, noting his personal opinions on medical marijuana are irrelevant. “Now it’s a matter of public safety.”

Councilmen Tom Romine and Tony Barletta voted against the second reading of the legislation. Council should hear the third reading of the legislation at their next meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. June 19 at Pickerington City Hall, 100 Lockville Road.

Acting city manager named

Council unanimously voted to approve the appointment of Frank Wiseman as acting city manager. Mayor Lee Gray said Wiseman used to be the service director for Pickerington before moving to Westerville, from where he retired. Gray said Wiseman’s familiarity with Pickerington is a plus while the city pursues its options to fill the position permanently.

“I am really pleased to be here and I am looking forward to working for the city the next couple of months,” Wiseman said.

Bill Vance, Pickerington’s city manager for the last eight years, announced his resignation June 1. The city recently offered him a two-year extension on his contract, which he declined.

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