Akron City Council voted unanimously Monday night to lift the moratorium on medical marijuana implemented by Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan last September, shortly after it was passed statewide.
Akron City Councilman Jeff Fusco said in addition to lifting the moratorium, council approved licensing, distribution, processing and even testing of medical marijuana. Fusco adds that the law specifically outlines who will be able to apply for licenses to distribute medical marijuana; state qualified and registered physicians.
In addition to state laws, those looking to grow or distribute medical marijuana would need a license through Akron City Council.
Fusco anticipates requests to grow and/or distribute will be coming in within the next few weeks, but doesn't expect the entire operation to be fully functional until September 2018.
He adds that despite the legalization of medical marijuana in the state, recreational use is still a no-no, and those who break that law are still subject to the same rules that were already in place.
On Monday, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan proposed legislation that would regulate any potential medical marijuana facilities, including dispensaries or grow houses, within the city limits.
The move is ahead the State of Ohio issuing licenses to businesses for cultivation, processing, testing, and despensing of medical marijuana.
In his proposed regulations, Mayor Horrigan outlines guidelines that restrict any medical marijuana facility operating within 500 feet of a school, church, library, playground, or park, and requires City Council to issue a special conditional use of medical marijuana business before it can operate in the city. The ordinance also implements a melti-step local licensing process and give cart blanche to Akron Police to inspect any medical marijuana facility at any time.
Back in September of 2016, one month after the State of Ohio passed medical marijuana statewide, Mayor Horrigan placed a one-year moratorium on the "issuance or processing of any license, building permit, certificate of occupancy, conditional use or other authorization that would enable the cultivation, processing, or dispensing of medical marijuana within the City of Akron."
A public hearing before Akron City Council regarding the proposed zoning regulation of medical marijuana factilities is scheduled for Monday, May 1.
With the state licensing process about to get underway for Ohio's medical marijuana facilities, the City of Akron is getting ready to implement rules of its own.
A package of rules unveiled Monday would keep medical marijuana facilities at least 500 feet from any Akron school, park, playground, library, or church. It would also require the facilities to receive approval from City Council to operate and would implement an annual licensing and fee structure.
Ellen Lander Nischt, Assistant Director of Law and spokesperson for the City of Akron, joined Jasen to talk about the proposal and explain that Akron is not trying to regulate the medical marijuana industry out of Akron.
(City of Akron) (Monday), Mayor Horrigan introduced legislation to Akron City Council that would heavily regulate potential medical marijuana facilities in the City of Akron, in anticipation of the State of Ohio’s issuance of licenses to businesses for cultivation, processing, testing, and dispensing of medical marijuana across the State. The proposed regulations would prevent facilities from locating in residential areas, or within 500 feet of a school, church, library, playground, or park, and require Council to issue a special conditional use to a medical marijuana business before it can operate in the City limits. Additionally, the ordinance would implement a multi-step local licensing process and allow the Akron Police to inspect any medical marijuana facility at any time.
In September of 2016, Mayor Horrigan introduced, and Akron City Council passed, a one-year moratorium on the “issuance or processing of any license, building permit, certificate of occupancy, conditional use or other authorization that would enable the cultivation, processing, or dispensing of medical marijuana within the City of Akron.” The moratorium was issued to enable the City to study and review the new Ohio medical marijuana law (H.B. 523) and other applicable zoning, business, and criminal laws and regulations. Today’s ordinance is the result of the City’s careful study of the new Ohio law, and decision to strictly regulate these businesses, should they seek to locate in Akron.
“The Ohio General Assembly established a system to allow Ohio residents to access medical marijuana, with their physician’s recommendation, to treat serious medical conditions like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy,” Mayor Horrigan said. “Recognizing that medical marijuana will now be legal across Ohio, we felt it necessary to enact additional local restrictions that will limit where medical marijuana businesses can locate in Akron and give us greater control over licensing, regulating, and inspecting these facilities to make sure they are being operated in a legal, appropriate, and safe way. The goal of this ordinance is to allow patients to access legal medical treatment while ensuring that these facilities do not have any unwanted impact on our neighborhoods. We will continue to enforce existing criminal laws and will closely monitor the impact of this new law to safeguard the health, safety and vitality of the entire community.”
The City also created a two-page fact sheet outlining the new Ohio law and how it will impact Akron, available at https://goo.gl/Ck0GoJ. A public hearing before City Council regarding the proposed zoning regulation of medical marijuana facilities is scheduled for Monday, May 1, 2017.
Medical Marijuana passed as state law and officially went effective on September 8th of this year. While the state still has a lot of work to do as far as securing approval for licenses to prescribe marijuana as medication and permits for dispensaries, the city of Akron says it needs more time to get the law straight.
On Monday night, Akron City Council approved a year-long moratorium on the state Medical Marijuana law. Councilman Jeff Fusco says the timetable is flexible, but the council believes more time is needed to see how Akron will take part in the statewide law. Fusco says the moratorium will give the city a chance to figure out "what's best for Akron in terms of the grow operations, processing, (and) dispensing of medical marijuana" within the city.
Hear the entire interview from the Ray Horner Morning Show by clicking the player below:
The group pushing for a constitutional amendment permitting the use of medical marijuana says it's satisfied with a law change on the way to Governor Kasich's desk, even though they don't consider it perfect.
Brandon Lynaugh, campaign manager for the group seeking signatures on petitions to place the issue on the November ballot, said in a statement it became "increasingly clear....our ballot issue camapaign had arrived at a critical juncture."
The group claims it had already collected several hundred thousand signatures but admitted the road ahead with a law permitting marijuana use for medical purposes would mean even more difficulty raising money and volunteers for the effort. Lynaugh said improvements made to the program showed a step forward and credited advocacy efforts by supporters.
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(Ohioans for Medical Marijuana) Statement can be attributed to Brandon Lynaugh, campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana.
Late Friday evening, after considerable discussion, the decision was made to suspend our drive to place an issue on the November 2016 Ohio ballot.
We make this decision with a heavy heart as we will surely disappoint our many volunteers, supporters and patient-advocates who invested considerable time and effort in our movement.
It had become increasingly clear following the state legislature's passage of a medical marijuana law on Wednesday that our ballot issue campaign had arrived at a critical juncture.
With several hundred thousand signatures collected thus far, one option for our movement would have been to continue to pour our resources into obtaining the additional signatures needed to put the issue before voters.
But the reality is that raising funds for medical marijuana policy changes is incredibly difficult, especially given the improvements made to the proposed program by the Ohio General Assembly and the fact that the Governor is expected to sign the bill.
As we said following Wednesday's vote, the legislature's action on medical marijuana was a step forward, and thanks to the intense advocacy efforts of patients and their families, activists and our team the bill was vastly improved before passage. Removed from the bill was much of the red tape and onerous regulations that would have severely limited patient access, and added was a very important provision granting an affirmative defense to qualifying patients beginning this fall. Also stripped from the bill were troubling provisions raising the threshold for pain.
To be sure, there are shortcomings to the legislature's measure. There are a number of qualifying conditions which should have been included, and we firmly believe that patients should have the right to smoke and grow their own medical marijuana.
But, all in all, it is a moderately good piece of legislation passed by lawmakers who were pushed hard by the patient community.
We plan on continuing forward as an advocacy effort to ensure that the State of Ohio lives up to the promises contained in HB 523, but also working to better the program utilizing our amendment as a roadmap for those improvements.
But the reality is for us, this campaign to put our issue on the 2016 ballot ends today. To everyone who joined us on this effort, especially those patients and their families who will benefit from Ohio's new medical marijuana program, we owe you a debt of gratitude.