Medical marijuana could be available in Ohio December but cities like Columbus have started changing some of the rules for the new industry right as it’s about to get started.
Columbus City Council scheduled a vote Monday evening to change zoning rules for medical marijuana facilities.
“There’s a lot of emotion around marijuana in general,” said Tony Celebrezze, the assistant director of Building and Zoning for the City of Columbus. “This is all in an effort of communicating and being more transparent so that neighborhoods understand what is occurring in their neighborhood.”
One of the rule changes is to require facility managers to notify property owners within 250 feet of a facility of what is moving in next door.
“The problem we have is this program was passed (by state lawmakers) more than two years ago,” said Tim Johnson with the Ohio Cannabis Chamber of Commerce. “If the municipalities had an issue with it then, why didn’t they address it then?”
Some cities opted to not allow medical marijuana companies to set up shop. Columbus decided to allow it citing economic development opportunities. Johnson said he worried the new regulations might catch on with more places around the state.
“As (regulations) goes (around) the City of Columbus, probably it’s going to go across the State of Ohio,” he said. “It will be a trigger effect where other municipalities will jump on board.”
Medical marijuana was supposed to be available in September by law, but so far none is available legally. The first crops cultivated have recently been harvested and sent for processing. Industry experts and state officials said the first products could hit the market later in December or early 2019.
City leaders said the zoning changes would be the first of several changes when it comes to marijuana in Columbus. Council President Shannon Hardin said he wa