Medical marijuana dispensary makes pitch to Hubbard Council

By Sarah Lehr


City council may revise a proposed ban on medical-marijuana facilities to accommodate a dispensary looking to set up shop in the city.

An Ohio law legalizing medical marijuana took effect in September 2016, but the state’s medical-marijuana program is not required to become fully operational until September 2018.

Municipalities and townships have the option to limit the number of medical-marijuana businesses in their jurisdictions or ban them completely.

Last month, council introduced an ordinance that would forbid medical-marijuana businesses within city limits. The ordinance, however, would not prohibit using medical marijuana in Hubbard if it is legally obtained elsewhere. Violation would be punishable as a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

Several council members indicated they will reconsider the ban after a presentation Monday by Terrie and Trina Rich.

The Rich sisters grew up in Hubbard and own Om Yoga Studio on North Main Street and Healthy Balance Massage Center on East Liberty Street. They are seeking a license from the state for a dispensary where medical marijuana would be sold.

The Riches said they do not yet have a finalized business plan or an estimate of how much money they will be investing. They did say the facility would create at least 15 jobs.

They are considering locations in the city and in Hubbard Township. Though the state has not yet finalized its regulations for dispensaries, the businesses will not be permitted within 500 feet of a school, church, library, playground or public park.

Councilwoman Lisha Baumiller, chairwoman of the economic development committee, is hopeful the Riches will open a dispensary in the city. She believes the state-mandated security will be sufficient and is excited about potential tax revenue and increased traffic to nearby businesses.

Councilman Tim O’Hara suggested council may revise its proposed ban to include an exemption for dispensaries. The cultivators that grow medical marijuana and the processors that refine it would still be banned.

Council will discuss the matter during a 6 p.m. work session next Monday and bring the issue to a final vote during a 7 p.m. regular meeting June 19.

Mayor John Darko said earlier this month he opposed all types of medical-marijuana facilities in the city. Darko said Monday, however, he would support council’s decision and sign an ordinance even if it included an exemption for dispensaries.

Meanwhile, Austintown, Canfield and Poland have adopted bans against all types of medical-marijuana businesses.

Boardman trustees approved a one-year moratorium against only the dispensaries that sell marijuana. The moratorium does not affect cultivators and processors within the township.

Legislators in Campbell and Lowellville have approved nonbinding resolutions in support of cultivators in their communities. Youngstown will vote on its own resolution Wednesday.

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