BATH TOWNSHIP ─ Bath Township has joined other municipalities across the State of Ohio by officially banning the growth and sale of medical marijuana.
In a 2-0 vote, the township trustees passed a resolution during the April 19 township meeting, prohibiting the cultivating, processing and selling of medical marijuana within Bath Township, effective immediately.
Township Trustees Steve Ross and Tom Pitstick decided to move forward and vote on the proposed legislation although Township Trustee John Martin was absent from the meeting. Ross noted that he would not be attending the next township meeting, which would delay the vote until May 17.
Township Zoning Inspector Jim Miller told trustees that an individual had inquired about establishing a marijuana growing operation in the township. Pitstick pointed out that passing a resolution after a person or business obtained a license from the state to cultivate, process or dispense the drug in the township would be “problematic.”
House Bill 523, the legislation that legalized the cultivation, processing and retail dispensing of medical marijuana, took effect in Ohio on Sept. 8, 2016. The state law allows marijuana treatment of 25 medical conditions such as cancer, epilepsy and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Although the bill established a framework for the program, state agencies have yet adopted specific rules, regulations and guidelines for how marijuana will be cultivated, processed and dispensed, as well as how long a person can use the drug. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law as well.
Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 3796.29 authorizes the township trustees to adopt a resolution that prohibits or limits the number of cultivators, processors and retail dispensaries within the township. If no action is taken by the board of trustees, the zoning code as written allows the cultivation of medical marijuana as agriculture, as well as the processing and dispensing of the drug in the township, according to Ross.
“The state legislature has given local governments the full authority to prohibit or regulate medical marijuana businesses,” Trustee Ross said.
Ross read Resolution No. 17-2017, which defined the trustees’ reasons for prohibiting their decision. Those reasons included the rural and agricultural character of the township, the lack of a township-based law enforcement agency, the periphery of the Greene County Sheriff’s service area, the lack of any retail and/or industrial centers and the township’s distance from any substantial market for retail dispensaries, among other reasons.
“Allowing cultivators, processors or retail dispensaries at this time is not in the best interests of the citizens of Bath Township,” Ross stated.
When asked by township resident Dave Anderson why he voted to prohibit rather than regulate the cultivating, processing and dispensing of medical marijuana, Ross said, “My principles bleed over into my political life. That is all I have to say.”
Once state officials have adopted specific regulations, Ross said trustees could revisit the issue and repeal it at any time.
Discussion on local pavement
In other business, Bath Township Road Supervisor Vern Heizer reported to township trustees that paver issues existed in the Country Acres subdivision. The paving project, which was completed in 2016, consisted of a mastic application and chip and seal surface treatment to the roads and a walking path. Heizer said the condition of the pavement at the intersections was terrible, and 99 percent of the surface on the walking path is peeling up. According to Heizer, Ryan Terry, with Strawser Construction Inc., thinks the pavement needs to be resurfaced.
“The chip and seal is the problem. It is no longer black or sticking to the road,” Heizer said. “However, it does have a one-year warranty.”
Heizer said he would contact road contractor Ray Hensley about honoring the warranty and resurfacing the streets and walking path.
“We will be on the premises and will make sure the crew is doing a good job,” said Heizer.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.