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Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Fort council prepares to vote on banning medical marijuana

By Sydney Albert
FORT RECOVERY - Council members likely will vote at their Oct. 2 meeting whether to permanently ban medical marijuana facilities within the village.
A bill allowing for medical marijuana use in Ohio became effective on Sept. 8, 2016. Council members first passed a six-month moratorium on Oct. 3 of that year to allow time for state officials to work out the details of the law. Members later extended the moratorium to last until Oct. 3 of this year.
The rules governing implementing the law have been finalized, village grants administrator Erin Minor said at council's Monday meeting. She suggested members consider a permanent ban.
The law would allow four potential businesses: cultivators, processors, retail dispensaries and testing labs, Minor said. The law has set limits on how many facilities can be established in the state. The state also has been divided into districts with a limited number of facilities allowed in each. Mercer County is in District 2 along with Van Wert and Paulding counties, and the entire district is allowed one business.
Minor said many communities have already put permanent bans into place while a few have expressed optimism at the possibility of establishing a business. Reasons given by other community leaders for wanting a medical marijuana facility include tax and development opportunities and job creation. Village administrator Randy Diller said tax revenue would be the same as from any other potential business.
Minor asked council members to decide by the Oct. 2 meeting to prevent a gap in the ban.
"For us, I think it boils down to do we think it's better or worse for Fort Recovery to have a dispensary in town, or would we rather people go to Van Wert?" council member Erik Fiely asked.
Minor questioned if by avoiding an outright ban, council members would seem to encourage marijuana use. She also said some qualifying medical conditions were vague, such as chronic pain.
Diller questioned what residents would think, saying it could be hard to separate the illegal drug aspect of marijuana from its medical uses.
Diller and mayor David Kaup thought it was unlikely Fort Recovery would get a business even if council members did allow it, since the village is on the southern edge of the three-county district - unless nearly all other communities establish bans.
The council tabled discussion until Oct. 2.
Council members also,
• accepted the rates and amounts of district tax levies and authorized them for the next fiscal year, which starts Jan. 1.
• accepted $30,571 in state local government funds.
• adopted the Mercer County Hazard Mitigation Plan, which Minor said was important for having access to federal funds in case of an emergency.
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