Thursday, July 13th, 2017
Officials advised on pot law
By Sydney Albert
ST. MARYS - Residents, township trustees and other local officials gathered for an informal discussion on Wednesday at the old Noble Township School to learn more about the Ohio medical marijuana law and what officials can do to prevent dispensaries and cultivation in their areas.
Medical marijuana will be allowed to be cultivated and sold at designated dispensaries throughout the state by Sept. 8, but townships can pass resolutions to ban operations in their area, said Auglaize County Assistant Prosecutor Andrew Augsburger.
"The only thing you cannot have a resolution to ban is to have testing agencies banned. … However, those are mainly done through universities," he said.
Most universities aren't willing to get permits to test marijuana, however. According to Augsburger, they fear their federal funding will be cut because marijuana is still classified federally as an illegal, Schedule I drug.
The Ohio Department of Commerce and the State Board of Pharmacy are in charge of making the rules that will regulate the sale of the drug. State Rep. Craig Riedel, R-Defiance, said officials have a "long way to go" in that regard, despite the quickly approaching September deadline.
Auglaize County Commissioner Doug Spencer said because the facilities would be medical as opposed to recreational, no tax dollars would return to the county.
The effects similar laws have had in states such as California and Colorado were discussed at length, including the issues of people abusing the system and being unable to control the substance properly.
"The problem is that you can't control it," Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon said.
Solomon said he'd been in contact with two sheriffs in Colorado who described higher crime rates and trouble in schools since that state's recent legalization of recreation marijuana and said people in California sell medical forms for marijuana on the streets.
Solomon also voiced concerns about the potential for people to deal marijuana on the side. He said he believes marijuana could be a gateway to other, more addictive substances such as opioids.
Travis Faber, who is running to represent Ohio House's 84th District, acknowledged the higher crime rate in Colorado may be correlated to the state's legalization of marijuana but said he doesn't necessarily believe it is the sole cause.
The Ohio Department of Commerce has received 184 applications for dispensaries and cultivators, but the locations of the proposed facilities have not been released, Augsburger said. He noted a prepared resolution to ban any such facilities is available to township trustees to pass before something would be built.
"If you wait too long and the Department of Commerce grants somebody in your township a permit, you're probably too late. By then it'll be grandfathered in," Augsburger said. "The sooner you do it, the better."