By Linda Collins
Fairborn Daily Herald
ENON — The Enon Village Council has passed an emergency ordinance imposing a 180-day moratorium on the granting of any permit allowing retail dispensaries, cultivators, or processors of medical marijuana within the village.
Council members unanimously passed Village Ordinance 2016-04 after they approved the dispensing of the second and third readings of the proposal during Tuesday, Sept. 13 council meeting. Enon Mayor Tim Howard, who presented the first reading of the proposed resolution, told village residents the Ohio Legislature’s medical marijuana law officially went into effect Thursday, Sept. 8. This date also kicked off the formal rule-making process for agencies involved in the program. The mayor also noted that the moratorium was deemed an emergency. Therefore, it would go into effect immediately.
“This will give village officials about six months to review applicable Ohio statutes, criminal codes and the zoning ordinances relative to using the drug,” Howard said. “We can then create regulations that meet the intent of the law, while protecting the public’s health, safety and welfare.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich signed legislation on June 8 legalizing the use of marijuana in vapor form for certain chronic health conditions, while banning patients from smoking marijuana or growing it at home. The governor’s signature made Ohio the 25th state to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The new law authorizes the legislative authority of a municipal corporation or a board of township trustees to adopt regulations to prohibit or limit the number of dispensaries of medical marijuana licensed under the Medical Marijuana Control Program. In addition, the law prohibits cultivators, processors, retail dispensaries, or laboratories from being located within 500 feet of schools, churches, and public libraries, playgrounds and parks.
Also under the terms of the new law, an employer is not required to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana and can continue enforcing drug-testing policies and maintaining drug-free workplaces. However, banks and other financial institutions that provide financial services to a licensed cultivator, processor, retail dispensary or laboratory will be exempted from criminal prosecution.
Village Councilman Rick Hanna, who first presented the proposal before council during the Aug. 23 council meeting, noted that the moratorium would give village officials the time and opportunity to study the new legislation and come up with appropriate ways to legislate the law within the village limits.
“This is not a prohibitor. This is a 180-day moratorium. This is not about the legality or merits of medical marijuana. This is strictly about making sure that Enon is fully aware of the impact, the demand and the logistics, both legally and socially, upon the village and our residents,” Hanna said.
Hanna noted that the moratorium was the proper step for council to take now that the new state law has gone into effect. He pointed out that, without a moratorium, an individual would be able to come into the village government center and file an application for a permit before the village completed laying out all the rules.
“As council members, we want to ensure that we are operating in the true interests of our citizens. I have concerns, and I believe most of Enon’s citizens would not appreciate the village being known as your one-stop spot for pot shopping,” said Hanna.
According to Hanna, village officials needed to focus on the impact of selling marijuana on village resources, such as maintaining the security of the businesses selling marijuana, the safety of the general public traveling the streets of the village, and Enon’s hometown, family atmosphere.
“We will have to do a lot of research before allowing the limited use of marijuana in the village,” Hanna noted. “We also need to consider the will of the majority of our village residents.”
When Mayor Howard invited comments from the public, three village residents expressed their views about the moratorium and new law. Longtime Enon resident Chris Price told council members that he supported legalizing the use of marijuana for particular medical conditions.
“I think it is high time for village officials to support the use of marijuana for cancers patients and for the treatment of glaucoma, epilepsy, nausea, autism, MS, anorexia and other medical conditions,” Price said.
Enon resident Don Urbansok expressed his support of the moratorium and stated that village officials needed time to research and examine the new law.
“I think it is prudent for village council to pass a moratorium while they take a good look at the details concerning this law,” said Urbansok.
Village resident Ned Clark asked Howard and council members if they would establish a panel to examine the issue.
“I don’t think village officials could do that much if it is a state law,” Clark said.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.