The new medical marijuana licensing and dispensing program in Ohio was a major topic of this week’s Mayors Association of Ohio Annual Conference, and Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings said he has mixed feelings on the subject.
Hastings attended the three-day conference in Columbus, and said Friday that marijuana growing will represent “a new industry.”
“It was a bit surreal,” Hastings said in regard to mayors from small and medium communities reacting to the marijuana issue.
“I was surprised how matter-of-fact some of them were,” he said. “Some were like, ‘Not in my city,’ and others took the attitude that, ‘Hey, the state legalized it,’ and now it’s just another form of employment to them.”
So where does Hastings land on the subject?
“We’ve had two or three approach us, but ever since the Pike murders, I’m not sure how crazy I would be about being a grow facility,” said Hastings, referring to the Rhoden family murders in nearby Pike County last year and the fact that a large marijuana growing operation was discovered on a family property.
But even if it’s not grown here, the mayor is less resistant to medical marijuana being dispensed locally.
Dr. Jeff Beery, the Highland County coroner, told The Times-Gazette recently that he does not believe there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana, and called the drug a “gateway to hell,” saying it leads to additional drug usage.
The mayor doesn’t oppose marijuana to that extent. “I will concede there is a medical use for it,” Hastings said.
He said municipalities can charge a licensing fee – “I like that idea,” he said – and dispensaries could “bring in a lot of people.”
“And they wouldn’t be the unsavory types,” said Hastings, noting that the price for medical marijuana in various forms will run $200 to $300 per prescription.
“It’s not like a pill mill,” he said. “You’d have to be somewhat well off.”
Still, the mayor said he would listen to his constituents on the subject.
“If the community said we don’t want any part of that, I’d listen to the community,” he said.
The Associated Press reported this week that another Ohio city has lifted its moratorium on cultivating medical marijuana as the state accepts applications from potential growers in that newly legalized sector.
The Blade reports the Sandusky City Commission this week rolled back its ban on medical marijuana cultivation. The city manager says it wasn’t a response made for any particular grower, but people have reached out with interest about potential grow sites in Sandusky.
Further west in Oak Harbor, the village council is considering a measure to allow cultivation and processing of medical marijuana but prohibit dispensaries there. Officials in Stryker also are considering a measure to support a tentative agreement with a potential grower.
The state Department of Commerce, Ohio Pharmacy Board and State Medical Board will regulate Ohio’s medical marijuana industry.
Ohio legalized medical marijuana last year after Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a law authorizing doctors to recommend cannabis use for patients with 21 medical conditions.
Hastings said other subjects covered at the conference included Kasich’s push for the state to take over collection of municipal income taxes, which most cities, including Hillsboro, are on record opposing; public records and open meetings refreshers; and an Ohio Department of Transportation update on available funding mechanisms.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at [email protected]