The moratorium on medical marijuana businesses opening in Springfield has been extended through late September.
Springfield city commissioners on Wednesday unanimously passed the temporary ban until Sept. 27.
The item initially wasn’t on the agenda for the Wednesday meeting but city staff prepared an ordinance extending the moratorium in case the discussion continued, Law Director Jerry Strozdas said.
Commissioners first placed a six-month moratorium last August on new medical marijuana-related businesses. That came after Gov. John Kasich signed a bill last year making cannabis legal in Ohio for medical use.
The city extended the temporary ban in February for another six months to allow staff members to research whether they would have to change any local zoning or other laws because of the state’s new regulations. The extended moratorium was expected to end Wednesday.
The state is expected to release final rules for dispensing and processing businesses on Sept. 8, which would give staff time to confirm the rules before the last meeting in September.
The moratorium can be rescinded at any time, Strozdas said.
“You can revoke it at any time you have a public meeting,” he said.
If the state finalizes its rules earlier, commissioners could reconsider the temporary ban at that time, Mayor Warren Copeland said.
“It seems to be that if this can be helpful in some serious medical situations then I’ll personally vote to allow it in Springfield,” Copeland said.
The question isn’t the medical uses, City Commissioner Dan Martin said, but the land use plans. It’s possible the rules could change while they’re being finalized, he said.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Springfield extends medical marijuana moratorium
“It makes sense that we know what the state is going to permit and not permit at those locations,” Martin said.
If it’s not allowed in the city of Springfield, prospective businesses will just move to the township, City Commissioner Karen Duncan said. There’s also very little land available for cultivation in Springfield, she said.
“Why not keep the revenues and businesses inside the city limits but with some regulations?” Duncan said.
The city’s existing zoning codes are appropriate to handle medical marijuana cultivation, dispensing and processing if city commissioners want to allow it, staff members told commissioners earlier this year.
Springfield resident Renea Turner hopes to open several medical marijuana businesses locally. She came to the commission meeting Wednesday night and said she worries the moratorium could discourage businesses from coming to Springfield and even result in the state dismissing any applications from here.
Ohio is the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana, even though it’s still illegal under federal laws. The state’s law doesn’t allow marijuana to be smoked or grown at home. It will have to be used in patches, vapors, edibles or other forms.
The state program would issue building permits, certificates of occupancy or change of use permits for cultivators, processors or retail sellers of medical marijuana.
Some residents spoke against allowing marijuana businesses in the area. The community already has an issue with opioids and alcohol, Springfield resident Bruce Williams said.
“When are we going to learn to say ‘No’ and mean it,” Williams said.
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