If you thought about getting in on the processing of medical marijuana and you live in the city of Portsmouth, you might want to put that ambition on hold. On Monday night, Portsmouth City Council passed a resolution imposing a moratorium of six months on the issuance and processing of any permits allowing retail dispensaries, cultivators, or processors of medical marijuana within the city of Portsmouth, Ohio.
The state legislature passed Substitute House Bill 523, which is the bill legalizing the cultivating, processing and dispensing of medical marijuana, effective Sept. 8, but city officials say the guidelines have not been created by state officials yet, so they want to hold off on any such activity, until the guidelines are issued.
“The governor signed the bill into law back in June, effective Sept. 8, that legalizes medical marijuana,” Portsmouth Solicitor John Haas told the Daily Times. “The state is required to draft rules and regulations with respect to the cultivation, processing and dispensing of marijuana. Those rules have not yet been written.”
Haas said it is difficult for cities to design their ordinances and issue permits without guidance from those who created the law to begin with.
“A lot of cities around the state are doing these moratoriums to allow the state to finish up their rule making process so we know what we’re working with,” Haas said.
“The state law says you can’t have a dispensary within 500 feet of a school or church,” City Manager Derek K. Allen said. “Other than that, there’s no rules. If you would look around the state, a lot of communities are passing moratoriums to say we’re going to wait and see what the rules are – how this is going to work.”
Haas said he is a member of the Ohio Municipal Attorneys Association, and the protocol to be established under the new medical marijuana law is currently a hot topic.
“They are having seminars with respect to this issue later this fall,” Haas said. “Most cities that are concerned are passing these moratoriums because the rules and regulations governing this issue have not even been adopted.”
Haas said if City Council wants to set guidelines as to where these operations can take place six months from now, it can most likely do so.
“The city can regulate where it’s going to be or the city can say we don’t want it in our city,” Haas said. “There’s numerous options.”
Haas said the reason the issue came up so suddenly as to be added to the agenda at the hour of the meeting, is an inquiry made earlier in the day by someone interested in a medical marijuana operation.
Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson asked Haas if anyone in the public has reached out to him inquiring about it from the angle of a medical need.
Haas said no one had made such a request.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.