WELLINGTON — On Dec. 19, Council will hold a final reading on a law that if passed would ban the growing, cultivating and selling of medical marijuana.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Council members told a medical marijuana advocate that the purpose of the ban is not to dissuade people from using medical marijuana but to wait to allow the facilities necessary to grow and sell it until the state clarifies its zoning and other rules.
John Pardee, an environmental consultant, told Council he became a medical marijuana advocate after his son, Jason, was in a car accident. He had a shattered pelvis, broken ribs and punctured lungs and was in a medically-induced coma for two weeks while doctors mended his bones.
Jason Pardee was given painkillers during recovery, but John Pardee said the pills often landed him in the emergency room for other issues.
When his son moved to California and starting using legal medical marijuana for his lingering pain, John Pardee decided to do his own research.
“I would never advocate for anything I wouldn’t think wouldn’t actually enhance the safety and security of the good people of Ohio,” Pardee told Council.
Pardee dismissed the belief that marijuana is addictive or a gateway drug, and he said deaths from opioids have decreased in states that have legalized medical pot.
Bans like Wellington is considering, even though it could be temporary, add to the stigma medical marijuana already has, Pardee said.
“Marijuana is already here illegally,” Pardee said. “The problem comes from when you have an unregulated black market. Legalization is not something to be feared, it’s to be embraced.”
He said allowing dispensaries in Wellington would increase access for the people who need it most, and it would help out the economy.
Councilman Guy Wells said the state’s law doesn’t yet answer questions as to how the village would include marijuana businesses in its zoning code.
Mayor Hans Schneider agreed.
“This gives us time to see what the state does and how that affects us,” he said.
Because the government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug in the same category with heroin, Ecstasy, and LSD, states are on their own to regulate cultivation and sales.
Brandon Bashak, an Elyria resident who was formerly a licensed caretaker in California and grew medical marijuana for Jason Pardee, attended the Wellington meeting to hear Council’s thoughts.
Bashak grew up in Elyria. When he moved back, he became the member chairman for North Central Ohio National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
He said he wants to make sure that businesses and doctors are compliant with Ohio’s medical marijuana bill and that patients can get safe access to medical marijuana.
“I’m not necessarily trying to sway anything. I want to hear what the temperament is, and I want to hear the opinions of everyone, and that way I know how to work with everyone,” Bashak said.
The danger, he said, of not allowing sellers in Wellington is that patients will continue to get their weed on the black market where deals are unsafe and the marijuana has not been tested.
Plus, he said, many new users are actually older folks with chronic illnesses, not teenagers.
“They want to make sure they are getting something that’s good, so if you’re forcing them to go through the black market to get their medicine, they don’t know what they’re dealing with,” Bashak said.
The final reading for the medical marijuana ordinance is set for Dec. 19.
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