Pubdate: Wed, 20 Jul 2016
Source: Journal-News (Hamilton, OH)
Copyright: 2016 Cox Ohio Publishing
Author: Denise G. Callahan


State Still Working on Rules for Medical Pot Dispensaries

LIBERTY TWP. - Liberty Twp. officials plan to ban or place a 
moratorium on medical marijuana businesses while various state 
agencies work on rules for the new law that allows the drug.

After a failed attempt at legalizing marijuana both for recreational 
and medical use, the state legislature and Gov. John Kasich signed 
into law a measure that will allow it only for medicinal purposes.

State Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester Twp., met with trustees Tuesday 
in a work session to discuss the new legislation. He encouraged them 
to place a moratorium on the medical drug while they figure out how 
they want to tackle the issue.

"We are very concerned about what the township wants to do, to make 
sure the zoning people have the total ability to prohibit it if they 
don't want it...," Coley said. "I would recommend at least putting a 
moratorium on unless you have a lot constituents that have come and 
said I really need to do this."

The trustees plan to seek legal counsel to help them figure out the 
best route to take.

"I think it's clear we're all on the same page," trustee board 
President Tom Farrell said. "We don't want this right now at least 
until they come out with the rules.It's just a matter of how we're 
going to put the brakes on this. Whether it's going to be a 
moratorium, a ban or put the zoning in and not allow it."

While the rules governing marijuana use aren't due until September 
2018, Trustee Christine Matacic said the township needs something in place now.

"My gut feeling right now is maybe we do what other communities have 
done and that is we say we're either going to ban them or put a 
moratorium or something on, until we find out what the rules are," 
she said. "Until we know what the rules are, I would not feel 
comfortable with permitting anything at this point."

While marijuana grown in Ohio is months away from being available, 
those with doctor's notes can use medical marijuana from other states 
where it is legal starting in September.

Those who use marijuana legally can still be fired and denied 
unemployment benefits if they violate their workplace drug policies.

When the rules do come out, Farrell told the Journal-News earlier in 
the day officials will better know where to fit the new business 
classification in their zoning.

"In essence, a moratorium is the only tool we have in our bag that 
allows us to buy some time, to educate ourselves on this new 
business, what it means to the township and its residents," he said. 
"Then when we've educated ourselves, then we can decide where and 
when those businesses can come to the township."

The law specifically gives townships and cities the right to regulate 
and deny medical marijuana dispensaries.

West Chester Twp. Trustee George Lang said he believes that 
township's zoning laws already address medical uses and the rules the 
state is working on could very well make local laws moot. He is a 
proponent of the new law.

"If we can help people we should help them," he said. "I don't 
believe marijuana is a gateway drug and if it's legal in the state I 
don't want to be an impediment to someone who is seeking that treatment."

The city of Hamilton banned medical marijuana last year, primarily as 
a preemptive strike when the movement was on to legalize both medical 
and recreational pot.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom