Northeast Ohio Cities Approve Delays on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Akron council approved a moratorium on Monday.
Akron council approved a moratorium on Monday. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
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by Nick Castele

Akron approved a one-year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries Monday, while Cleveland city council is considering a delay of its own

Ohio’s medical marijuana law officially took effect last Thursday, but it could still be a while before someone can fill a prescription in the state. The Ohio commerce department and pharmacy board have one year to develop rules for doctors, patients and the industry.

The law allows municipalities and townships to ban dispensaries or to limit their numbers. But for now, many cities across Northeast Ohio are opting for delays.

“I introduced a one-year moratorium on the cultivation, processing or sale of medical marijuana in Akron in order to thoughtfully and diligently study the effect of the new law on our neighborhoods and determine the best path forward,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said in a written statement. “This moratorium does not affect the ability of patients to legally use medical marijuana in Akron with a physician recommendation.”

The Cleveland measure, introduced on Monday, would put a 12-month hold on the issuing of zoning permits and other licenses needed to set up a medical marijuana cultivator, processor or retail dispensary.

“What we’re hoping for is to be able to help set and guide the principles of when these places open, how far away from residential districts, what are some of the setback requirements, what are some of the hours of operation—some basic tenets of when you’re operating a business like this,” Cleveland City Councilman Tony Brancatelli said.

Six-month waits have been approved in Parma, Lakewood, Brooklyn and other Northeast Ohio suburbs.

Brian Adams, president of the Cleveland chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said he hopes cities eventually do agree to allow dispensaries.

“The clock has been ticking for quite a while in Ohio, and I think any further delay (is) just a little backwards here,” Adams said. “But if they feel that these precautions need to be taken, fine, but I think the patients really want the medicine now.”

The law prohibits smoking the substance, but it can be dispensed in oils, edibles, patches and plant form. Patients will be allowed to use vaporizers.

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