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Trustees rule out medical marijuana facilities

By Justin Wier

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

By JuSTIN WIER

jwier@vindy.com

AUSTINTOWN

The Austintown Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to prohibit any facilities associated with the production of medical marijuana within the township.

Residents who legally purchase medical marijuana products elsewhere will still be permitted to possess the products in Austintown. The resolution bans cultivators, processors and retail dispensaries.

Trustee Jim Davis said the board is worried about placing additional stresses on the police department to make sure potential businesses are adhering to strict regulations.

“We need to make sure that, first and foremost, we can keep the community safe,” Davis said.

House Bill 523 went into effect in Ohio on Sept. 8 of last year, authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but rules and regulations will not be in place until Sept. 8 of this year. The program is required to be fully operational by Sept. 8, 2018.

Trustee Ken Carano said the law is untested, and it’s not clear what the costs and benefits are at this point.

“Laws are like new cars,” Carano said. “You never want to buy a brand-new car that just came out.”

After other communities, he said the board may reassess its decision.

Trustee Rick Stauffer said the township has plenty of challenges, and it doesn’t need what he sees as another challenge in monitoring businesses associated with medical marijuana.

“It’s not good legislation,” Stauffer said. “There are lots of questions about it, and it’s not good for Austintown.”

The board spoke to both the police and entrepreneurs interested in starting medical marijuana businesses before making the decision.

Davis said he isn’t concerned about forgoing potential jobs.

“We’re not talking about 50-100 jobs,” Davis said. “We’re talking about a handful of jobs, just a few people to man the store.”

The township would not recover any potential tax revenue beyond property taxes, he added. He said the trustees are taking a wait-and-see approach.

“Let’s see before saying, ‘Yes. We want it in Austintown,’” he said.