Fairfield Twp. enacts 1-year moratorium on medical marijuana businesses

FILE - In this Thursday June 17, 2021 file photo shows Jake Crisco, general manager of the Green Leaf Medical Cannibis facility, holds a mature bud of marijuana at the company's plant in Richmond, Va. Adult recreational use of marijuana will become legal in Virginia this week, but the commercial production and sale of marijuana is still almost three years away. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
Caption
FILE - In this Thursday June 17, 2021 file photo shows Jake Crisco, general manager of the Green Leaf Medical Cannibis facility, holds a mature bud of marijuana at the company's plant in Richmond, Va. Adult recreational use of marijuana will become legal in Virginia this week, but the commercial production and sale of marijuana is still almost three years away. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Credit: Steve Helber

Credit: Steve Helber

The Fairfield Twp. Board of Trustees is one of several around Ohio reacting to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy after it approved 73 more cannabis dispensary licenses earlier this year.

Earlier this month, trustees voted unanimously to impose a one-year moratorium on issuing and processing any permits for retail dispensaries, cultivators or processors of medical marijuana within the township.

Fairfield Twp. Julie Vonderhaar said the administration has received questions about the township’s zoning regulations as it relates to medical marijuana. Based on that response, she said it was “important to give the board time to consider the zoning and let the staff look at the zoning more carefully.”

Township law director Larry Barbiere said the pause in allowing parts of the medical marijuana industry to operate in the township would give trustees and the administration time to review and potentially revise the zoning codes.

“This moratorium gives you an opportunity to address the issue and the changes that are made to the zoning resolution, and in the meantime, there won’t be anything happening,” Barbiere said.

Fairfield Twp. Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer said the board “needs to take time to make the right decision for the township on this issue. There are many aspects to consider.”

Three more medical marijuana dispensaries could be added to the district that includes Butler, Preble and Darke counties. There are currently two license holders within the district, Bloom Medicinals and Cannascend Alternative LLC (formerly Strawberry Fields), both of which are in Butler County.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy approved expanding the number of medical marijuana licenses to 130, an increase of 73. Those hoping to obtain one of the licenses have a two-week application window starting on Nov. 4. Applicants must pay the fee and submit associated documents by Nov. 18.

Other communities around Ohio have done similar moratoriums, and Lebanon City Council, in neighboring Warren County, is considering a 180-day moratorium to also study its zoning policies concerning medical marijuana.

Unrelated to the Ohio pharmacy board’s spring action, a pair of Ohio Democratic lawmakers introduced in August legislation to legalize recreational marijuana. The bill, which addresses decriminalization, a marijuana excise tax, commerce and licensing, and medical marijuana, has been referred to the House Finance Committee.

Staff Writer Ed Ricther contributed to this story.

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