Medical marijuana may become legal in the state of Ohio on Thursday, but it won’t in Fostoria.
At least, not anytime soon.
Fostoria City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a one-year freeze on the cultivation, processing and sale of medical marijuana within the city at the request of Mayor Eric Keckler.
The temporary, 12-month ban went into effect just two days before House Bill 523 – signed into law by Gov. John Kasich on June 8 – makes Ohio the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana.
“We certainly are not coming out for or against medical marijuana or the growing of medical marijuana,” Keckler said Tuesday. “… What we’re trying to do is have a moratorium that would allow us a year to study this a little closer as they start to put out the new rules and regulations so we can control where (dispensaries) will be able to be located.”
Under state law, dispensaries cannot open within 500 feet of a school, library, church, park or public playground. Additionally, no one will be permitted to grow marijuana in their homes.
But some officials, however, have expressed concern over an alleged two-year gap between the legalization of medical marijuana and when many regulations will likely be implemented.
“The issue we have is with the rules and regulations,” Keckler said. “There have been some brought forward, but a lot of the information won’t be out until 2018.”
The Department of Commerce has until March 6, 2017 to adopt rules overseeing cultivation and testing. The Board of Pharmacy, which will oversee patient registry and dispensaries, and the State Medical Board of Ohio, tasked with supervising physicians, both have until Sept. 6, 2017 to put rules into place.
“Without us having anything specifically for marijuana dispensaries, we may be at the mercy of whatever site they (growers) choose,” Keckler said. “I think it would be fair for our community if we were able to set up our own zoning rules to have these facilities be set up where we’d like them to be located.
“It just seems it would be a wise idea for us to put a moratorium on this until such a time when we could make some decisions that make sense instead of allowing people to make decisions for us,” he added.
The mayor’s call to impose a temporary ban on medical marijuana followed the lead of neighboring cities Findlay, Tiffin and Bowling Green, all of which considered similar pieces of legislation Tuesday.
Bowling Green City Council voted against a proposed moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. However, officials in both Bryan and Napoleon passed similar measures.
Findlay City Council gave a first reading to a request by Mayor Lydia Mihalik on Tuesday to impose an indefinite ban on medical pot in the city. As of press time Tuesday, there was no word on a decision in Tiffin.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, At-Large Councilman Brian Shaver said the city was cautious in its response to HB 523 and he thinks it is in the best interest of the citizens for officials to see what the regulations are going to be before moving forward.
As for his personal stance, Shaver said he is “against it in just about every avenue of use.”
“It’s just kind of how I was raised and how I choose to believe,” he said. “If they had some legitimate use for it, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) would’ve approved it already for the pharmacy.”
Fellow At-Large Councilman Doug Pahl said he considered voting “no” on the ban, but he changed his mind when he realized it “won’t make a bit of difference to anybody.”
“I think it will be designed to be regulated much like how the casinos were,” Pahl said, referring to how the state only allowed certain businesses to open gaming facilities in Ohio.
Pahl said he believes certain, already-wealthy individuals will be the only ones permitted to open medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.
“It’ll be designed to make certain people rich just like the casinos did,” he said. “It’d be nice to have the tax revenue for something like that, though. But, I think they’ve already got it all picked out.”
Pahl’s personal stance differed from his fellow councilman.
“Nobody’s overdosing on marijuana,” he said. “We’ve got a lot bigger things to worry about than that. I think we waste a lot of our resources and energy as far as that goes.”