Franklin approves permanent ban against medical marijuana businesses

Council: These businesses are not in city’s best interests

Franklin City Council has banned medical marijuana businesses from operating in the community because he council believes they are not in the best interests of the community’s health, safety and general welfare.

City Manager Jonathan Westendorf told council that the city currently has a moratorium to prohibit medical marijuana cultivators, processors and retail dispensaries in the city that expires June 1.

Westendorf said the purpose of the current 180-day moratorium that was approved Nov. 15 was to allow the city time to study data and to receive input from the recently appointed police and fire chiefs on the potential impact from theses types of businesses.

“Based on the information and input collected, the city has determined it’s in the best interests of the Franklin community to prohibit medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail activities in the city,” Westendorf said.

The ordinance banning these businesses goes into effect on April 6.

However, the new ordinance does not prohibit or limit research related to marijuana conducted at a state university, academic medical center, or private research and development organization as part of a research protocol approved by an institutional review board or equivalent entity.

Westendorf, who formerly served as the city’s fire chief, told council that the state has expanded the number of medical marijuana licenses. He said after the police and fire chiefs weighed in, city staff met with council’s Safety Committee, health providers and its HOPE intervention team.

“There’s too much conflicting information,” he said. “Based on where we are at, it would send mixed messages.”

Westendorf said there were also concerns about the long-term impact on children. He said there is lots of movement in the state to legalize recreational marijuana, and the city does not receive sales tax revenue on medical marijuana products.

“This isn’t time for this,” he said.

Council approved the prohibition unanimously.

Elsewhere in Warren County, Lebanon’s City Council extended its medical marijuana moratorium in January.

Council was prompted to impose the latest moratorium after a new rule by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy allowed the increase of medical marijuana dispensaries from one to seven in the district that includes Warren, Clinton and Clermont counties.

“The main point is to give us a little more time to craft some language that makes sense that fits the best use of land,” Lebanon Mayor Mark Messer said when the moratorium was extended.

The state Board of Pharmacy has approved adding 73 more dispensary licenses statewide, on top of the 57 licenses previously created. More than 1,400 applications were filed for those licenses, and the review process is ongoing. According to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program’s website, there are 57 active dispensary licenses across the state.

Warren, Clinton and Clermont counties are in one of the 31 dispensary zones in the state. There is one dispensary in the zone, About Wellness Ohio, which is located at 1525 Genntown Drive, Suite B in Lebanon. The next closest dispensary would be Columbia Care, formerly Strawberry Fields, 300 N. Main St. in Monroe. Also in Butler County is Bloom Medicinals, 403 S. Main St. in Seven Mile.

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