City plans medical marijuana meeting


By Nikki Blankenship - nblankenship@aimmediamidwest.com



Portsmouth City Council has decided to hold a public meeting in order to discuss the opportunity to house a medical marijuana dispensary.

Councilman Kevin E. Johnson suggested the public hearing as result of public interest and to answer questions of the public and City officials. City Manager Derek Allen suggested having an expert from the State Pharmacy Board come to speak regarding the rules and regulations. Council also suggested having experts that could give information about the background of medicinal marijuana and the outcomes of other cities who have housed such a facility. To allow time for the City to find impartial experts, Council decided to announce the meeting at a later date. Council added that there are individuals that have expressed interest in opening a dispensary in Portsmouth. Council also explained that the Scioto County Commissioners have issued a ban, preventing a dispensary from opening in the County; however, the decision only affects parts of the County outside of the Portsmouth. Portsmouth chose not to establish a ban within the city limits.

Ultimately, the location of a dispensary will be at the hands of the State. City says marijuana legislation is not necessary to be selected for a dispensary.

“The State of Ohio authorized medical marijuana throughout the state,” Solicitor John Haas stated. “The only way to keep a dispensary or other medical marijuana facility out of Portsmouth is for City Council to pass an ordinance banning them.”

At the previous City Council meeting, Allen explained that the State of Ohio passed legislation approving medicinal marijuana last year. At that time, the City issued a six month moratorium on municipal legislation permitting a dispensary. Allen added that the City chose to issue the moratorium while awaiting guidelines from the State level. Still awaiting those guidelines, the City issued a second six month moratorium in February, which has now expired. He added that the State has now established guidelines and thus the City could make a decision as to how to proceed.

The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program explained that the State Board of Pharmacy will begin accepting medical marijuana dispensary applications at 8 a.m. on Nov. 3. Applications will be accepted until 2 p.m. Nov. 17. Applications and all related materials must be submitted electronically through a web-based application accessible at www.medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov/dispensaries.

Prior to opening the application period, there will be two question and answer periods established to answer questions regarding the application process. The first question and answer period started Sept. 19 and will last until Oct. 5. The second question and answer period will be from Oct. 16 to Oct. 20. Additional information about the guidelines and application process can be found at www.medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov.

Council also voted to approve several ordinances including an ordinance enacting a new chapter of the city ordinances, establishing a procedure for carrying out public projects aimed at improving public properties; several ordinances establishing downtown redevelopment districts; the appropriation of $180,000 for the purchase of two ambulances to be used by the Portsmouth Fire Department as part of their new emergency medical services (EMS) initiative; an ordinance approving the collective bargaining agreement between the City and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (A.F.S.C.M.E.) Local 1039-C for the period of Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, which would deflect if not passed; and an ordinance authorizing the City Manager to hire an assistant.

Council also gave a second reading to an ordinance allowing for the disposal of a garbage truck; several ordinances allowing for the transfer and appropriations of funds to help correct the wastewater deficit.

Before adjourning, Council gave a first reading to an ordinance authorizing a grant provided by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the purposed of a 1.25 mile multi-use path along Front Street and Shawnee State University campus and an ordinance authorizing $32,000 for cleanup at Munn’s Run.

Portsmouth City Council will meet again at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 9 at the Municipal Courthouse located on Second Street in Portsmouth.

By Nikki Blankenship

nblankenship@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.