While Ohio's medical marijuana law took effect in September, many communities aren't so sure they want the business.
The list of Ohio municipalities that have either enacted or are considering moratoriums on the use of medical marijuana or businesses related to it now includes Groveport, where City Council is considering a one-year ban on medical-marijuana businesses, including cultivators, processors and retail dispensaries.
"A yearlong moratorium will provide us with time to review the rules after September 2017, then make any modifications to our zoning code, if needed.
"Changing our zoning code is a lengthy process," City Administrator Marsha Hall said.
The proposed ordinance, which received its second reading April 11, would impose a one-year delay on "the issuance and processing of any permits allowing retail dispensaries, cultivators or processors of medical marijuana within the city of Groveport."
The new state law, which took effect Sept. 8, 2016, allows patients to use doctor-recommended medical marijuana. It also allows for the plant's regulated cultivation, processing and sale. Operations are prohibited within 500 feet of a school, library, church, playground or park. Municipalities, under the law, may enact bans or limits on operations.
"Council may determine it's best to ban all aspects after they have a chance to review all the rules," Hall said.
Among central Ohio cities, the length of proposed moratoriums against medical marijuana or its attendant businesses varies from six months in New Albany to 18 months in Bexley. The one local community to buck the trend is Johnstown, where Apeks Supercritical owner Andy Joseph originally sold equipment to extract oils from mint, coffee and vanilla.
Then western states began legalizing marijuana, and demand for Apeks' equipment grew so much that the company has moved from being essentially a backyard business to a multimillion-dollar enterprise.
Village Manager Jim Lenner cited the potential for economic growth to explain why Johnstown became the first community in Ohio to openly welcome legal medical marijuana operations in August 2016.
"We believe assisting in the future recruitment of research and development, operations, production, testing and other general business practices in the village will generate well-paying jobs and a sustainable tax base," Lenner said.
Ohio law legalizes marijuana for medicinal uses for 21 conditions, including cancer, traumatic brain injury or chronic pain. Multiple forms of medical marijuana, including edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing, may be sold. However, smoking the plant is not permitted. Neither are home-grow operations.
The Ohio Department of Commerce, the State Medical Board of Ohio and the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy have oversight for the regulations.
Law enforcement agencies have expressed concerns about dispensaries because they will be a cash business, raising concerns about attracting more burglaries and robberies.
"Until we know all the rules, I'm hesitant (to comment), although dispensaries have been discussed as being a concern, especially where to allow," Hall said.
Medical marijuana is not expected to be available until the state has worked out the rules of carrying out the new law -- a process that state officials have said could take 18 months to two years.
ThisWeek reporters Andrew King and Marla K. Kuhlman contributed to this story.