The Journal News recently added an article discussing Middletown’s ban on medical marijuana.
The article is below and the link is provided.
Middletown approves medical marijuana ban with 5-0 vote
Members of Middletown City Council on Tuesday approved an indefinite ban on all medical marijuana operations within city limits, with a 5-0 vote.
Although there was debate about the issue on social media, nobody from the public showed up to council’s 5:30 p.m. meeting to speak for or against the ban. Council on Tuesday held a first and second reading of an ordinance that places a ban on cultivators, processors or retail dispensaries, and makes it a fourth-degree misdemeanor to violate the legislation. City Manager Doug Adkins has told council the city can always lift the ban after September 2018, when state rules take affect, to see if they mesh with the desires of city officials.
This ban does not keep people from using medical marijuana, but it does provide a ban on growing, processing, and retail selling establishments in Middletown.
On June 6, Governor Kasich signed into law House Bill 523, guiding the legalization of medical marijuana in the State of Ohio. The new law specifically authorizes municipalities to take certain actions to limit the location of marijuana dispensaries and cultivation operations. The law went into effect initially on September 8, 2016, ninety days after the governor’s signature, and it authorized the limited possession of medical marijuana and established the regulatory bodies necessary to govern the new law.
The remainder of the law phases in gradually over a two-year period. Currently, there are no state regulations issued governing either dispensaries or cultivation and processing establishments.
On September 9, 2016, Council adopted Resolution R2016-35, which issued a six- month moratorium on the licensing of medical marijuana cultivation or distribution in the City. Since issuing the moratorium, City staff convened from the following departments: Law, Planning, Zoning, Public Safety, Health, and Economic Development. We researched the possibilities moving forward and all appropriate regulations available at this time.
One City concern is that the State of Ohio has yet to issue any regulations or rules governing these businesses. Some draft rules regarding dispensaries were made available for public comment on December 15, 2016. According to the most recent information available from the State, the goals for implementation are as follows:
- May 2017: Develop/Adopt Rules for Cultivation
- September 2017: Develop/Adopt Rules for Processors, Testing Labs, Dispensary Rules, Patient and Caregiver Rules, as well as Physician Rules.
- September 2018: Full Implementation of Medical Marijuana related businesses
Because of this implementation schedule, there is no guidance currently on what state regulations or operating restrictions will be put into place for these businesses.
Given the nature of the issue and the lack of guidance in regulation, it was the joint recommendation from City Staff that Council enact a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation and distribution. This prevents any businesses from operating at this time, but will preserve all options for future review once the regulations regarding how medical marijuana will operate in Ohio are enacted.
As the regulations are completed over 2017 and 2018, we will take another look at this issue and determine if, under future regulations, we should lift the ban and allow any portion of this to operate in our city.
In the mean time, if someone has a legal prescription for medical marijuana under the new law, they can follow the law and we have no issues. For the moment, you can’t grow it, process it, or sell it here until we learn more. I understand that this stance will not please everyone, but I think it’s important to first see the regulations and then loosen the ban later if appropriate. Right now, there are no rules governing who and how to grow, sell, and distribute this new legal product. Reigning in nonconforming businesses later is much more difficult than getting it right on the front end.