Liberty says no to medical marijuana

By D. Anthony Botkin -

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Without any discussion, Liberty Township trustees unanimously passed legislation Monday prohibiting medical marijuana cultivation and processing as well as the establishment of retail dispensaries within the unincorporated areas of the township.

“I’m going to do everything in my power keep it out of the community,” Trustee Melanie Leneghan said Tuesday. “I believe by having that industry close by, it will only escalate the problem.”

Leneghan said that she has been involved in many discussions about both medical and recreational marijuana. She said she hasn’t found anyone in favor of having either form in the Liberty Township community.

Since taking effect Sept. 8, 2016 under terms of House Bill 523, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program has been a hot topic of discussion for many communities. The Ohio Department of Commerce, Ohio Board of Pharmacy, and the State Medical Board of Ohio have been given, by law, the responsibilities of adopting the rules governing cultivation, processing, and dispensaries.

Liberty Township Administrator Matt Huffman said he reached out to the Delaware County prosecutor’s office looking for a resolution to address the subject.

“The resolution they provided to us basically prohibits or limits the number of cultivators, processors or retail dispensaries licensed under the Ohio Revised Code within the unincorporated territory of the township,” he said. “The board finds it in the interest of Liberty Township to prohibit those uses.”

Though Ohio legislators set up the framework for the program, they left the task of establishing specific rules and guidelines to the different state agencies for the cultivation, processing, testing, dispensing and use of medical marijuana.

A draft map from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy shows that Delaware, Knox, Licking and Morrow counties compose the Southeast Region’s District 4 and are eligible to have up to four dispensaries located in the area.

According to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, the rules for cultivation were adopted May 6 by the Ohio Department of Commerce. The law also requires the department of commerce to establish the rules for laboratory testing by Sept. 8, 2017.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy is required by the law to adopt the rules for dispensary and the guidelines for patient and caregivers by Sept. 8 as well. The State Medical Board of Ohio is to adopt rules for physicians certified to recommend medical marijuana by the Sept. 8 deadline.

The Ohio law requires the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program to be fully operational by Sept. 8, 2017.

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By D. Anthony Botkin

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.