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North Ridgeville ponders marijuana moratorium

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NORTH RIDGEVILLE — City officials are considering a six-month moratorium on zoning and building permits for any structure proposed for the sale of medical marijuana.

City Council’s Administrative Committee recommended Council consider approving the moratorium to give local officials time to discuss how it will respond to a statewide measure signed into law earlier this year by Gov. John Kasich.

Moratoriums, most of a six-month duration, have been approved in Avon, Avon Lake, Sheffield, Westlake, Fairview Park and Strongsville. Rocky River has voted to ban cultivation and sale of medical marijuana.

The state bill, which took effect Sept. 8, allows the sale of physician-recommended medical marijuana to patients while creating state regulatory oversight of cultivation, processing, sale and use of the substance.

The state measure gives municipalities the right to ban or limit the number of retail dispensaries of marijuana for medical use as well as cultivators and processors.

The measure also requires any marijuana retail outlet or processor to be at least 500 feet from schools, churches, libraries, parks or playgrounds.

Mayor David Gillock, who introduced the measure, told the committee the city has three options.

“We can do nothing, we can ban them, or we can pass legislation to govern them the way we want to see it done,” Gillock said.

Differing viewpoints on the issue were presented Monday.

Councilman Dennis Boose, D-2nd Ward, a member of the committee who wanted a meeting, said he has no major issues with a moratorium, but felt it was wise to get ahead of the curve by discussing the city’s legal options to regulate the sale of medical marijuana, even as state law continues to be formulated.

“It’s not a question of if it will come up, it’s a question of when,” Boose said.

Despite passage of the measure at the state level, it may be two years before medical marijuana sales are underway.

Both Gillock and Boose said it was better to be proactive to give Council and the Planning Commission time to review state and local laws before drafting more specific local legislation.

Boose told fellow committee members Bruce Abens, R-3rd Ward, and Greg Westover, R-1st Ward, he hopes Council will not ban medical marijuana sales outright. Noting such sales are now legal under state law, Boose said the city could realize revenue from taxes, permits or other fees.

Boose said the city derived money from the short-lived period in which internet cafes operated before changes in state law shut them down.

Abens voiced a differing viewpoint.

“I’m not anxious to have medical marijuana in North Ridgeville,” Abens said. “It would likely bring in problems the police would have to deal with.

“We have enough issues with drugs now,” Abens added.

Law Director Andrew Crites said the city could enact stricter regulations on medical marijuana than those initially approved by the state.

The issue is expected to come before Council for a vote at a future meeting.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.



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