Lebanon extends medical marijuana moratorium again

A moratorium on granting new medical marijuana dispensary permits has been extended another six months so Lebanon city officials can study the matter further.

The moratorium extension will expire in late August. Council was prompted to impose the current 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,” said Mayor Mark Messer.

The state Board of Pharmacy approved adding 73 more dispensary licenses statewide on April 19, 2021 to the 57 current licenses already created. That would bring the total of licenses that could be issued to 130 after the next application round is completed. According to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program’s website, 55 of the original 57 licenses have already been awarded.

City Manager Scott Brunka said Lebanon’s zoning code allows medical marijuana dispensaries to be located anywhere a pharmacy can go. Officials said the moratorium would not impact the city’s current medical marijuana dispensary operator.

Brunka also said the current dispensary has not created any issues for police since they opened.

“Staff will continue to look at other developing zoning regulations for dispensaries for city council to consider,” Brunka said.

The city Planning Commission approved and recommended the following text amendments to the zoning code that include:

  • Banning any facilities in the central business district.
  • Allow facilities in the general commercial district as a conditional use.
  • Limit the total number of facilities in the city to two.
  • Prohibit recreational-use dispensaries.
  • Allow cultivation and production facilities in the city’s industrial districts.
  • Provide use-specific guidelines for facilities.
  • Add marijuana related definitions to the zoning code.

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

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