Medical-marijuana businesses will not have a home in New Albany as long as cannabis is illegal under federal law, according to city leaders.
New Albany City Council on Nov. 28 voted 6-0 to become the latest central Ohio city to ban medical-marijuana businesses.
Mayor Sloan Spalding, President Pro Tempore Colleen Briscoe and Marlene Brisk, Mike Durik, Chip Fellows and Matt Shull voted in favor of the ordinance. Glyde Marsh was absent.
As a result of the ordinance, marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensing are prohibited in New Albany.
City attorney Mitch Banchefsky cited medical marijuana's illegal standing under federal law as the reason New Albany moved forward with the ban.
Although medical marijuana now is legal in Ohio and the federal government isn't enforcing laws banning it, nothing would prevent the federal government from doing so in the future, he said.
"It all comes back to the federal issue again," he said.
Should the federal government change its laws regarding medical marijuana, New Albany would revisit its ban, Banchefsky said.
Grove City is another central Ohio municipality that has banned medical-marijuana businesses, and cities like Grandview Heights are weighing their options.
Meanwhile, Hilliard leaders recently approved a site policy for medical-marijuana businesses, and the village of Johnstown in August 2016 approved a resolution stating its "desire to not prohibit or limit legal medical-marijuana operations within its limits."
If individuals interested in medical-marijuana businesses are eyeing New Albany, they have not contacted the New Albany Chamber of Commerce about it, said executive director Cherie Nelson.
She said she hasn't heard from anyone interested in locating in the city.
However, New Albany council clerk Jennifer Mason said she has received calls from tracking groups, other cities and entrepreneurs who were interested in the status of New Albany's medical-marijuana moratorium. City Council in October 2016 first approved a sixth-month moratorium on granting city permits for medical-marijuana-related businesses.
"It's been a hot topic," Mason said.
About medical marijuana in Ohio
By September, Ohioans with qualifying health conditions are, by law, supposed to be able to buy medical marijuana.
The medical-marijuana law comes from House Bill 523, which was approved last year and sets up a highly regulated "seed-to-sale" system for growing, processing, testing and dispensing marijuana for people with any of 20 specified medical diseases and conditions.
Patients 21 and older will be able to get a recommendation from a physician for a 90-day supply of marijuana edibles, patches, oils, tinctures and plant material. Vaporizing marijuana will be permitted, but smoking will not. Home growing is banned.
The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program is overseen by Ohio Department of Commerce, Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the State Medical Board of Ohio and an appointed advisory committee.
Even though many municipalities are making local decisions about whether to accept medical-marijuana businesses, the state approval is required before any of them can open and the numbers of such businesses are capped.
Twenty-four growing sites -- 12 large growers and 12 smaller growers -- were announced in November.
The dispensary applications -- which were due in November -- are next up, followed by testing labs and processors.
State records show 60 marijuana dispensaries, scattered around the state, will be selected next year. The sites will be allocated by region, not by county. For example, Franklin County will have five dispensaries, whereas some counties will have none.
The state is expected to approve 40 processing facilities, some of them owned by cultivation firms.
The final link in the chain involves doctor and patients.
Medical doctors and osteopathic physicians must receive two hours of special training and be certified before being allowed to recommend marijuana to patients.
Cameron McNamee of the Ohio Board of Pharmacy said qualifying patients must have a doctor's recommendation before registering online for a marijuana card.
The Columbus Dispatch staff writer Alan Johnson contributed to this story.