Medical marijuana dispensaries would be welcomed by some residents

After politicians in some local municipalities say “no” to medical marijuana being dispensed in their cities, some residents are concerned they may not have convenient access to a dispensary.

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Several local communities — including Oakwood, Huber Heights, West Carrollton, Moraine and Springboro — have passed bans to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries within their borders, while Dayton, Beavercreek and Riverside are among those voting to permit them. Kettering is still considering the issue and Centerville has a moratorium that is set to expire May 15.

“I live in Centerville and am close to Kettering. It is a shame that marijuana will not be available in Kettering and Oakwood,” Mary Copeland, said as the number of cities saying no to dispensaries or leaning that way continue to grow.

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Gov. John Kasich signed into law two years ago House Bill 523 allowing people with any of up to 21 medical conditions to buy and use marijuana if recommended by a certified physician.

The law, which will go into effect Sept. 8, also provides that 24 medical marijuana cultivators would be granted licenses in the state, while dispensaries (60), processor of the product and testing labs, would be awarded licenses to set-up shop in Ohio.

Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy will regulate the dispensaries and has set strict rules for how many can open around the state.

Under Ohio law, only one dispensary location can be approved for Greene, Fayette and Madison counties, while in Montgomery County up to three licenses will be permitted.

Easy access important

Copeland said it is important to look at both sides of the issues and she is hoping to see medical dispensaries allowed locally.

“I am a 73-year-old woman in chronic arthritis pain, and taking two Percocets per day, prescribed by a pain doctor and monitored monthly. This has not been effective, and I feel I am being denied the opportunity and convenience of seeking possibly better relief,” Copeland said. “I need a dispensary closer to home. It is a shame that those closer to me have a ‘not in my back yard’ mentality.”

Eva Costa, 47, lives in the south suburbs as well, and works as an oncology nurse. Costa believes that Cannabis can effectively treat pain and dispensaries should be available to help people who have legitimate health concerns.

“I believe it’s good medicine,” she said. “There are zoning restrictions and security that must be observed, but I feel the time has come to look at more natural options to manage disease symptoms.”

As a nurse, Costa said she feels it is important to “distinguish the difference between recreational marijuana stores and medical dispensaries.”

She thinks the added medical marijuana dispensary businesses just adds to the outside the box thinking going on in Dayton right now when it comes to development.

“There’s lots of interesting things happening here in Dayton,” Costa said. “The outside the box medical and tech companies launching here are so cool.”

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Opposition remains

Despite calls to maintain an openess to medical marijuana dispensaries in Kettering and surrounding communities, Kettering Assistant City Manager Steven Bergstresser is urging council members to replace the city’s temporary moratorium with a permanent ban.

"We looked at it from a legal perspective, land use perspective and a safety perspective," he explained. "From a legal perspective it is still illegal at a federal level and so we felt that because of that disconnect between state law and federal law and the fact that businesses operating marijuana operate on a cash only basis so it leads to a potential of increased crime."

Possession and use of medical marijuana in compliance with state law would be allowed, and those individuals who desire to possess and use medical marijuana would be able to acquire it from nearby dispensaries in neighboring jurisdictions according to Bergstresser.

Resident Lisa Crosley, a business owner in the city, said she agreed with city staff’s recommendation to ban medical marijuana businesses.

She said it could “cause legal problems” for the city because it will pit state and federal laws against each other and also cause problems for business owners because of the “bad reputation” marijuana has.

Andrew Rodney, city planner and zoning administrator for Centerville, said the city’s moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries expires on May 15, but there isn’t a plan to extend it.

“If somebody comes in on May 16 with application for that type of business then we plan to enforce all of the zoning and other applicable laws that we already have in place,” Rodney explained.

Dispensary rules

Ohio law prohibits patients from growing marijuana for their own use — they’ll have to buy it from a dispensary and not keep more than a 90-day supply on hand. Parents can give consent to minors to use medical marijuana if approved by a certified physician.

The following forms of medical marijuana are allowed: oils, tinctures, plant material, edibles and patches. The law prohibits smoking and combustion but does allow vaping.

The Ohio Revised Code has strict rules governing dispensaries. They are prohibited from being located within 500 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground, public park or community addiction services provider.

What conditions make someone eligible for medical marijuana?

Any of up to 21 medical conditions can make a person eligible to buy and use medical marijuana if recommended by a certified physician. Those conditions are:

AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s, cancer, chronic pain, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, spinal cord conditions, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury and sickle cell anemia.

SOURCE: The State Medical Board of Ohio

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