The question of whether medical-marijuana dispensaries should be permitted in Grandview Heights remains unresolved despite copious discussion on the subject among city leaders.

Grandview City Councilwoman Emily Keeler, who leads council's planning and administration committee, said she would like to schedule a special committee meeting to give residents another chance to weigh in on the issue.

"The medical-marijuana issue will be the only item on the agenda," she said. "We've received a lot of feedback from residents on this issue and we're always ready to hear some more."

The date for the special meeting has not been set, but it likely will be held later in March after council's regular gathering March 5, she said.

Council voted at its Feb. 20 meeting to extend the city's moratorium on retail dispensaries for another three months. The moratorium was set to expire March 1 after having already been extended at least two other times.

"We need more time to look at the issue, but we would have had to extend the moratorium in any case," Keeler said.

Council members also voted to table indefinitely two pieces of legislation introduced by Councilman Steve Reynolds at the beginning of the year as what he said was "a compromise."

The first ordinance was similar to the original measure council adopted last year to ban cultivation and processing operations. The second measure would have permitted a retail dispensary to be located within the city's M-1 light industrial zoning district.

The consensus of council is that Reynolds' two-pronged approach to the issue "muddies the water by mixing zoning and prohibition together," Keeler said. "It was confusing to me and I think would be confusing to residents as well."

Keeler has introduced an ordinance that would prohibit medical-marijuana retail dispensaries citywide.

"It's just a simpler, more-streamlined approach to the issue," she said.

The simpler ordinance would make a potential referendum less confusing, Keeler said.

"If we had voted for both of Mr. Reynolds' ordinances and you wanted to put a referendum on the ballot, it might be confusing whether you'd be voting on the zoning issue or on the issue of medical marijuana in general," she said.

By tabling his ordinances indefinitely, council has in effect rejected them without taking an actual vote, Reynolds said.

"The history of the council in the years I've served is probably 98-plus percent of the time, if a measure is not brought to the table, it doesn't have a chance of ever being adopted," he said. "If you don't want the legislation, vote it down."

The effort to push forward an outright ban on medical-marijuana dispensaries "is political jockeying" that puts the overall prohibition "in the driver's seat," Reynolds said.

"It conflates the use of medical marijuana, which can have a great deal of benefit for people who really need it, with recreational use of marijuana," he said.

Per Ohio law, 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 limited number of specific conditions, such as AIDS, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

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

Reynolds said he has researched studies that indicate many fears about retail dispensaries are unfounded, including that they lead to increased crime and more recreational use of marijuana, or that they make it easier for children to access it.

"I've tried to introduce that research at our committee meetings so we can have a logical, fact-based discussion," Reynolds said. "To me, it's unconscionable not to allow the dispensing of medical marijuana that a patient's doctor believes will have beneficial effects on their condition -- especially when you look at the prescribing of opiates and what a negative impact that is having on people."

Keeler said a community of fewer than 2 square miles has "more-appropriate uses for our limited available space than a dispensary."

Grandview residents still would have access to medical marijuana from one of the five dispensaries the state will permit in Franklin County, she said.

Reynolds said there's no guarantee any of the five local dispensaries will be close to Grandview.

"The people who wouldn't be able to get transportation to those locations are probably the ones least able to put up a fight on this issue," he said. "I'm going to continue to fight for them."

Of the 69 applications filed for dispensaries in Franklin County, two -- at 1669 W. Fifth Ave. and 656 Grandview Ave. -- are just on the other side of the city's borders with Columbus.

Keeler said an overall prohibition is probably best at this time due to the unresolved conflict between the federal government's continued classification of marijuana as an illegal substance and Ohio and other states' medical-cannabis laws.

"We've been talking about this for a long time," she said. "It's time we moved forward so can make a decision on this issue."


.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }