Pot is hot in Franklin County, judging from the number of applicants seeking to sell medical marijuana.

According to an updated list of applications released last week by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, 69 applicants – the most in the state – want to operate dispensaries in Franklin County. Cuyahoga County had the second-highest number of applications with 57.

Three of the Franklin County applications are for sites in Reynoldsburg:

• 6320 E. Livingston Ave., not far from Reynoldsburg High School’s Livingston Avenue campus

• 6492 E. Main St., an office building between Brice and Rosehill roads

• Parcel No. 060-00569, 2 acres of commercial land between Rider and Retton roads, according to the Franklin County Auditor’s website

Reynoldsburg is one of the few central Ohio communities that has taken no action to prohibit medical marijuana businesses or to control where they might be located.

City Council President Doug Joseph said be brought the issue to council’s attention last November.

“To date, no member of council has chosen to initiate legislation or discussion of it,” he said Feb. 2.

According to the minutes of the Nov. 17, 2017 City Council meeting, Joseph noted at the time that a number of communities “have either embraced having growers and developers come in to the communities and others have gone the other direction by putting controls and regulations and restrictions ... Our clerk had given us the documents a few months back giving some information about some of our options and if anyone wants to pursue that I encourage you to speak with the clerk and she can help you prepare something in that regard.”

Mayor Brad McCloud said that by state statute, a retail dispensary is prohibited from being located within 500 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground, or public park. However, it’s unclear whether all the proposed locations in the county comply with those rules.

“In addition, because a dispensary does not appear as a defined use in our zoning code, it would require the approval of a special-exception-use permit,” McCloud said. “The applicant’s argument would have to be that its proposed use is most similar to the permitted uses in the zoning district where they propose to locate.”

He said a zoning change might also need to be obtained as part of the process.

Only five provisional licenses will be awarded in Franklin County.

None of the prospective locales is in one of the northern suburbs: Gahanna, New Albany, Westerville, Worthington or Dublin.

Among the Columbus sites:

• Four are proposed along East Main Street near James Road.

• Two are along West Broad Street adjacent to the Hollywood Casino Columbus.

• One is in the Crosswoods retail center just north of Worthington.

• One is a block from the North Market, just north of Nationwide Arena.

• One is across state Route 315 from the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

• One is near a tattoo parlor and pawn shop on West Broad Street in the Hilltop neighborhood.

• One is on East Long Street between North Third and Fourth streets downtown.

• One is on South Third Street a couple blocks from the Franklin County Courthouse.

• Two are on East Long Street near Columbus State Community College.

• One is near a restaurant called Mr. Pot in the Kenny Centre Mall in northwest Columbus.

The Southeastern Ohio region, of which Franklin County is a part, will be the site of 17 of Ohio’s 60 dispensaries.

In central Ohio, Delaware County had one application, Fairfield County had three, Licking County had five, Madison County had three, Pickaway County had two and Union County had two.

The Board of Pharmacy hasn’t said when it will issue provisional dispensary licenses.

Unlike states such as Colorado and California, people will be able to get marijuana at Ohio dispensaries only if they get a “recommendation” from a physician who has a special certificate. Doctors can issue recommendations only for a set list of conditions, such as AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and a number of other ailments.

Ohio law prohibits the sale of marijuana that can be smoked. It must be processed into edibles, oils or tinctures.

Growers, processors and dispensers will have to work against an aggressive timeline to make medical marijuana available to patients. State statute requires dispensaries to be operational by September.

The Department of Commerce has granted 24 provisional licenses to growers, although that process has generated some controversy.

In December, the department received 104 applications for 40 provisional licenses it has yet to issue.

For a full list of applicants for all Ohio medical-marijuana dispensaries, visit tinyurl.com/ohiomarijuana.

ThisWeek reporter Pamela Willis contributed to this story.

mschladen@dispatch.com

@martyschladen

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