Northwood is considering an ordinance that would impose a moratorium on granting permits that will allow the sale of medical marijuana until the state develops rules and regulations on the matter.
Last year, the Ohio legislature passed House Bill 523, which legalizes medical marijuana in Ohio. The law went into effect on Sept. 8. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program will allow people with certain medical conditions, upon the recommendation of an Ohio-licensed physician certified by the state medical board, to buy and use marijuana. While the legislation set a basic framework for the program, it left the task of establishing specific rules and guidelines for the cultivation, processing, testing, dispensing and medical use of marijuana to different state agencies.
Under the new law, an advisory board will help frame the state’s Medical Marijuana Control Program. The Ohio Department of Commerce will then have the responsibility for developing rules and regulations governing the business aspects of medical marijuana licenses, cultivation, sales, consumption, and enforcement.
The Northwood law director and staff have been reviewing the new statute and its effects, if any, it may have on Northwood’s personnel policies.
“There’s a state of flux as to what the state will allow and not allow,” said City Administrator Bob Anderson. “So our city attorney Brian Ballenger thought it would be best to do a limited moratorium on anything to do with marijuana until we have more information from the state.”
Since the new law expressly permits local governments to legislatively regulate and even prohibit medical marijuana cultivation and sale through zoning laws, the city is reviewing the best options using zoning codes.
Until the rule making process is complete, Northwood is not ready to formulate new legislation dealing with the matter. As a result, the administration has asked city council to impose a moratorium of 180 days on permits dealing with the new state statute, according Anderson. Council has already given two readings to the proposed moratorium, the first on Feb. 9, and the second on Feb. 23.
“After the third reading of the ordinance, we’ll send it to the planning commission, where they will talk about it before it is sent back to us,” said Anderson.
The Ohio Department of Commerce and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy are required by law to ensure the Medical Marijuana Control Program is fully operational no later than September 2018. At that time, there will be an established structure for residents with a qualifying medical condition to obtain a recommendation for medical marijuana, purchase medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary, and consume medical marijuana.
Rossford, Swanton and Sandusky have also passed moratoriums on granting permits until the state develops rules and regulations on medical marijuana.
Oregon Council President Dennis Walendzak told The Press last week that the city is staying up to date with information on the matter.
“It’s really premature to do anything right now,” said Walendzak. “But our administration is reviewing what is going on with the state as it develops rules and regulations on medical marijuana so we can be proactive when they are enacted.”
The law requires the Ohio Department of Commerce to adopt cultivator rules by May 6, 2017. By Sept. 8, the law requires the following: The Ohio Department of Commerce to adopt processor rules and testing laboratory rules; the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to adopt dispensary rules and patient/caregiver rules; and the State Medical Board of Ohio to adopt rules for physicians certified to recommend medical marijuana.
Finally, the law requires the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program to be fully operational by Sept. 8, 2018.