NORTH RIDGEVILLE — City Council took another step toward banning medical marijuana businesses within the city limits.
On Monday night, Council approved a recommendation from a Committee of the Whole report, dated May 1, to adopt a ban on the cultivation, processing and retail sale of medical marijuana in North Ridgeville.
According to Council President Kevin Corcoran, the next step will be for an ordinance banning such businesses to come before Council at a future meeting.
Council placed a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana businesses several months ago.
“In June, that moratorium will expire,” Corcoran said. “Right now, the state hasn’t really figured out what they’re doing as far as the rules and regulations are concerned.”
Council felt it had to make a choice whether to continue the moratorium and readdress the issue in another six months or to place a ban, according to Corcoran. There were also concerns over litigation that has been discussed that a continuing moratorium is illegal.
Corcoran said a number of issues need to be resolved with how such businesses would work. Many of those issues stem from that while Ohio has legalized medical marijuana, the federal government views it as illegal.
“That creates a lot of different problems for the businesses themselves,” he said. “They can’t use the banking system. They can’t just go to the bank and say, ‘Here’s my marijuana money,’ because then that’s illegal drug money that the federal banking systems then says, ‘We can’t launder drug money.’ There are issues there that, on a broader scale, still need to be figured out.”
Not everyone on Council voted in favor of the recommendation, though. The measure passed 5-2, with Councilman Gregg Westover and Councilwoman Roseanne Johnson voting against it.
“I think we should welcome them,” Johnson said. “There are so many benefits to medical marijuana. That’s just it: It’s medial marijuana; it’s a prescription drug. I just see it as a benefit and an economic development tool. I think the city could receive income from it.”
Johnson said that if another pharmaceutical company came to North Ridgeville saying it wanted to manufacture oxycodone, she believes the city would welcome them.
“It’s medicine,” she said. “I don’t see the difference between the two.”
Johnson also doesn’t feel the federal government is going to act against states that have legalized marijuana.
“I don’t see that there’s going to be much of a problem there. Ohio passed it about a year ago, and at that time we were the 25th state to pass it. This would be more than half the states in the nation that the federal government would have to come after. I don’t see that happening.”
Corcoran said that if City Council does pass an ordinance banning medical marijuana businesses, it doesn’t necessarily mean the ban would be permanent and the issue could be readdressed later.
Johnson believes that will be too late, though.
“I think we should be more open-minded and not just put a ban on it,” she said. “They could always come back and reverse it, but I think that by the time they do that, we’ll have missed the boat.”
The Ohio General Assembly approved the use of medical marijuana in September. A number of municipalities in Lorain County have issued moratoriums or bans on medical marijuana businesses, including Lorain, Avon, Avon Lake, Sheffield and Wellington.
Elyria and Oberlin have both expressed support for such businesses within their city limits.
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