Hubbard Council mulls ban on medical marijuana businesses


Published: Tue, May 16, 2017 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Sarah Lehr

slehr@vindy.com

HUBBARD

Hubbard City Council is considering a citywide ban on medical marijuana businesses.

Council gave an initial reading to the ordinance, which prohibits medical marijuana cultivators, processors and retail dispensaries, Monday night.

Violation would be a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

Under Hubbard’s proposal, people still would be allowed to possess medical marijuana within the city after legally buying it elsewhere.

Ohio House Bill 523, which legalized medical marijuana statewide, took effect in September 2016. The medical marijuana program is set to be fully operational by September 2018. In the meantime, the law allows Ohioans with certain medical conditions to obtain marijuana from other states, such as Michigan.

Typically, council approves ordinances after three readings at three separate meetings. Council attempted Monday night, however, to fast-track the ordinance after one reading. The 5-2 vote in favor of that motion, however, fell short of the six votes necessary for accelerated passage.

Councilman-at-large Justin Silvidi, who voted no along with Councilman Michael Toda, D-4th, said he needed more time to consider the ban.

Toda said medical marijuana dispensaries could provide valuable tax revenue to the city. “This could be a cash cow,” he said.

Law Director Mark Villano countered that argument during caucus, however.

“You’re not going to get Pfizer coming in here growing a medical marijuana plant,” Villano said. “You’re going to get Joe Blow wanting to grow it in his basement. He’ll be selling more out the back door than selling out the front.”

The Ohio Department of Commerce will award only up to 24 licenses to sites growing medical marijuana. There will be additional licenses for the processors that refine the marijuana and the dispensaries that sell it.

If council gives final approval to the ordinance, it will take effect immediately after being signed by Mayor John Darko.

Darko, who supports the citywide ban, said marijuana businesses would create unnecessary complications for the police department.

“I just don’t think it’s something that we need to have in our city,” Darko said.

Austintown and Canfield officials this year voted to bar medical marijuana facilities in their communities.


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