The city of Powell could approve new restrictions on medical marijuana and tobacco by the end of the month.
Powell City Council members June 20 will conduct second readings of two pieces of legislation: One would raise the age limit for buying tobacco products within city limits from 18 to 21, while the other would bar businesses from growing or selling marijuana for medical purposes in Powell. Council could approve both ordinances at the meeting.
The ordinance on tobacco would prevent local businesses from selling or distributing tobacco products to anyone younger than 21. The proposed legislation would not ban people younger than 21 from possessing tobacco within city limits.
Councilman Frank Bertone, who serves as chairman of the city's operations committee, said the six-month effort to craft and review the legislation has been "a long and painstaking process but well worth it." While the committee has moved the legislation forward, not all council members have been fully supportive of the campaign.
Vice Mayor Jon Bennehoof said he is "conflicted" about the change. He said he's not sure adults who are old enough to enlist in the military should be prevented from buying tobacco in Powell.
"I support this in spirit to some extent," he said. "I also understand it's only in the city ... and someone in the military service could probably just go down to Kroger, which is in Liberty Township, and buy their cigarettes."
If Powell approves the new restrictions, it will join a growing number of central Ohio communities that have raised the age limit for buying tobacco, including Bexley, Columbus and Upper Arlington.
While one proposed piece of legislation would put a new restriction on businesses, another would bar certain businesses altogether.
A law that took effect last year legalized the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medical purposes in Ohio as long as those businesses meet standards set by the state. The law also allows municipalities to pass moratoriums or outright bans on businesses that grow or dispense marijuana.
Council's operations committee has recommended the city go forward with an outright ban on such businesses.
Bertone said council members thought passing a moratorium would not be decisive enough.
"We felt that a moratorium is more or less kicking the can down the road," he said.
He said council could rescind the ban in the future if the attitude of officials and residents changes in regards to marijuana-related businesses.
The city does not have the power to bar residents from using medical marijuana within city limits or from obtaining it outside the city.
Councilman Dan Swartwout said at council's June 6 meeting he was against council voting on the two new restrictions without giving residents a second chance to provide feedback later in the month.
"I think these are issues that the public is pretty interested in," he said.