Council discusses Marijuana program

By Frank Lewis -

House Bill 523, effective on Sept. 8, 2016, legalized medical marijuana in Ohio. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program will allow people with certain medical conditions, upon the recommendation of an Ohio-licensed physician certified by the State Medical Board, to purchase and use medical marijuana.

While the legislation set a basic framework for the program, it left the task of establishing specific rules and guidelines for the cultivation, processing, testing, dispensing and medical use of marijuana to different state agencies. The city of Portsmouth placed a moratorium on medical marijuana establishments pending notification of rules. Now it looks as though some rules are available to local communities.

“Three weeks ago we did receive preliminary rules from the state on medical marijuana establishments,” Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen told Portsmouth City Council Monday night. “So, at some point, I guess I’ll have to bring that through for conference agenda to discuss if City Council wants to allow establishments in town, and if they do, under what regulations. We would have to come up with rules and I’m not sure what all is required.”

Allen said he has had preliminary discussions on the topic with Portsmouth City Solicitor John Haas about the issue.

Haas reminded council the city has a moratorium on medical marijuana establishments because the city has been waiting on the rules to come down.

“I think it’s going to take every bit of that time (until September) to try to figure it out,” Haas said. “If council decides they want to move forward, to permit it, to write the rules and do the zone changes. I think it’s going to be a complicated process.”

Chad Ruggles of Sciotoville addressed Council Monday night inquiring as to the status of the program.

“I was just wondering if any member of this council has spoken with anybody representing the state of Ohio in regards to this area and the medical marijuana business, and if you have, what would an entrepreneur, such as myself do to get licensing?” Ruggles asked.

During that portion of the council agenda, council does not answer questions. It’s a time strictly dedicated to statements by members of the community.

By Frank Lewis

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.