Council pursues ban on medical marijuana

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Council directed Law Director Jeffery Amick to prepare legislation to ban the dispensing, cultivation and processing of medical marijuana within the city of Sidney, Monday, during the Sidney City Council meeting.

Amick led a discussion seeking direction from council regarding sale, cultivation and/or processing of medical marijuana, or whether do nothing until Oct. 9.

He reminded council they adopted an ordinance on March 27 to extend the moratorium for medical marijuana in Sidney until Oct. 9, 2017.

Since March 27, Amick received a letter from Sen. Matt Huffman that advised action should be taken sooner, rather than later. Amick said Huffman’s letter claimed a city may not be able to institute a ban, if regulations are already underway on the sales, cultivation and/or processing of medical marijuana.

Amick said that information is not set forward within the statute on medical marijuana, and is unsure if others think this way, but made council aware of Huffman’s perspective.

Local communities, Amick said, “are all over the board” on the issue. He said Troy and Vandalia have completely banned sale, cultivation and processing; Oakwood only banned sale and cultivation; and Wilmington approved the location of a large $40 million cultivation facility.

This prompted lively discussion among council.

Mayor Mike Barhorst said because it is against federal law, he cannot support the sale, cultivation nor the processing of medical marijuana in Sidney.

Council members Janet Born and Ed Hamaker concurred with Barhorst.

Council member Darryl Thurber said he thinks council should consider dispensing medical marijuana. Born responded that there are other places just as close. When asked where, she said probably Piqua.

Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan said she doesn’t understand why medical marijuana is not dispensed in a pharmacy if the medical community has decided it to be a viable drug. She asked Amick if the city does not ban medical marijuana, could they change their stance in the future. Amick said they could.

Milligan said she thought council was delaying a decision about medical marijuana because they were waiting for the state to give specifics about how they were going to handle the regulations, but after she read through the entire Ohio Revised Code (ORC) that day, sees areas still undefined. She said it is a hard call, but believes there are medical uses for medical marijuana.

Born said she spoke with three doctors that said there are enough other medications available that medical marijuana is not needed.

“Also, marijuana, no matter how mild or ineffectual it seems, still impairs the brain … and many of those people will try driving, which is just like called drug driving, instead of drunk driving. And that’s why I think we should not have it,” Born said.

Council member Joe Ratermann said he definitely believes the sale and processing should be immediately banned. And although cultivation seems tempting, he believes it should be banned as well. He said perhaps if future generations, decades from now, are able to demonstrate they are wrong, they can make that choice to “uncork the bottle” in Sidney.

Thurber noted some of the current alternatives to medical marijuana are extremely addicting. He said the perception of medical marijuana dispensaries is they will be like a “head shop” with people sitting around smoking marijuana day in and day out. He said if you look at the ORC, that is not the case.

He said he believes this is step in the right direction for treating some pain oriented diseases, such as glaucoma. He said it is another choice for patients to receive pain relieving medicines, and it may “dry up or put aside” the problem with the over prescribing medications. He said since they already have a pain management office in Sidney, he thinks they should offer another choice, to Vicodin or Oxycodone for example, which are very addicting.

Council member Steve Wagner said he began his career in law enforcement in 1973, and would not have thought he would agree, but said he agreed with almost everything Thurber said. But he questioned Amick how the other states are allowed to get away with selling marijuana if it is against federal law.

Amick said they will find that out in the future because it is before the federal courts in Colorado now. He said it could take a number of years before it is settled, but thinks Ohio saw an opportunity and it will adjust once the Colorado decision comes down.

“This is our community, and I believe we should keep our community safe for everybody, including when children visit the homes of people who are legally permitted to purchase marijuana that is available. I would say people that want to smoke and they want to live in that community, and that’s fine, let them move there. But here in west central Ohio, in Sidney, Shelby County, we have flourished with the deeply ingrained set of principals and values and the hardworking, law abiding citizens. And we have survived and flourished because of our work ethic and principals. And I do not believe we should flout federal law. I don’t believe we should risk eroding the values of our own generation and our childrens’ future values, and as long as we have the ability to determine what kind of community we want to live in, I would recommend we proceed with a ban as soon as possible,” Ratermann said.

Milligan said she wanted to clarify that smoking was prohibited by the ORC and that marijuana had to be in another form, such as pill form. She agreed she does not want people sitting outside smoking recreationally, but believes it serves a medical purpose — especially for those at the end of their live or those with glaucoma.

Amick told council just because council bans the dispensing, cultivation and/or processing of medical marijuana within Sidney it doesn’t mean people cannot legally use it here.

Thurber said if Sidney bans it just because its marijuana, they should ban all other prescribed pain medications, too, because they are just as easily obtained by children.

Ratermann pointed out that council is only considering medical marijuana at Monday’s meeting, not other medications.

Thurber said Ratermann is describing medical marijuana like people are just smoking marijuana, not medical marijuana.

Amick also pointed out that council has the authority to ban medical marijuana and it does not have the authority to ban the other drugs Thurber mentioned.

Barhorst said with four council members against dispensing, cultivation and processing of medical marijuana and only three for it, he directed Amick to draw up the legislation for the ban.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.