Eaton Council considering ban on medical marijuana production

By Kelsey Kimbler -

EATON — Eaton City Council is considering a ban or a moratorium on the cultivation, processing, and retail distribution of medical marijuana.

The topic came up during a city council meeting on Monday, June 19. Not much discussion was held during the meeting and council will discuss again in July.

On May 25, 2016, the Ohio General Assembly passed substitute House Bill 523, which allows individuals with a qualifying medical condition, on the recommendation of a physician, to apply to the State, and upon approval of their application, receive an identification card allowing them to obtain, possess, and use medical marijuana for the treatment of their condition.

The House Bill became effective Sept. 9, 2016.

According to home rule authority set forth in Article XVII of the Constitution of the State of Ohio, the City of Eaton Charter, and the Ohio Revised Code, municipalities have the inherent power to enact planning, zoning, and business regulation laws that further the health, safety, welfare, comfort, and peace of the citizens of the municipality, including restricting, prohibiting, and/or regulating certain business uses.

Municipalities may adopt restrictions, including prohibiting or limiting the number of cultivators, processors, or retail dispensaries of medical marijuana within their corporation limits.

The state boards have published their proposed rules governing operation of marijuana dispensaries, cultivators, and processors, the issuance of certificates to physicians wishing to recommend medical marijuana to patients, and the registration of patients and caregivers wishing to purchase medical marijuana pursuant to these recommendations. These proposed rules are in the process of completing the state’s agency rule-review.

Having reviewed these rules, the Eaton City Council is in opposition to medical marijuana cultivation, processing, and retail distribution within the city.

This would not regulate use, but only the business end of it.

According to the city’s drafted ordinance, the city considers the fact that marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance a liability. They believe a consequence of the continued prohibition of marijuana by the Federal government is that financial services providers such as banks and credit card companies are unable to do business with marijuana enterprises, because it is illegal under federal law to transmit funds known to have been derived from marijuana.

They further believe that the “unbanked” status of marijuana businesses results in the businesses and their customers carrying significant amounts of cash.

The ordinance continues by noting the presence of large amounts of cash invites opportunity for robbery, theft, money laundering, tax evasion, and other violent crimes constituting threats to the public health, safety, and welfare.

The ordinance also states the the City of Eaton views these as threats to public health, safety, and welfare.

After light discussion on whether to adopt a ban or a moratorium, Mayor Dave Kirsch asked staff to draft an ordinance proposing a moratorium, which by nature is temporary, to be presented to council during the July meeting.

City council will be voting on the moratorium on the cultivation, processing, and retail distribution of medical marijuana during the July council meeting, to be held this Monday, July 17, at 7 p.m. in the Eaton City Building.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH