Grandview Heights City Council members agree medical-marijuana cultivation and processing operations should be permanently forbidden in the community.

Dispensaries are a different story.

Council continues to discuss whether to allow some form of retail marijuana dispensing operations potentially to open within city limits.

Council voted at its Nov. 20 meeting to remove retail operations from an ordinance permanently banning medical-marijuana operations in the city.

The ban on cultivation and processing operations was retained in the legislation. Council agreed to consider retail dispensaries separately.

Council members are expected to vote Dec. 4 on extending the moratorium on dispensaries for another three months.

A six-month moratorium on all medical-marijuana operations council approved in June will expire Tuesday, Dec. 5.

"The consensus on council is that there is no desire to have any cultivation or processing operation in our city," council President Greta Kearns said, "but there is a split on council as to whether to allow retail dispensaries."

Extending the retail moratorium will give the new council seated at the beginning of 2018 time to consider the retail issue and seek input from residents, she said.

Although Melanie Houston will be the only new member of council next year, the current split means even one vote could be crucial, Kearns said.

Separating the dispensary issue from the cultivation and processing issues also helps residents with clarity, especially if there is a move to place a referendum on the ballot, she said.

"I think no matter which way we would vote, there may well be a referendum placed on the ballot," Councilman Anthony Panzera said at the Nov. 20 meeting.

"The retail issue is the one residents would be concerned about and would be the one that would potentially be the subject of a referendum," Kearns said. "It's better to separate that issue from the others."

Ohio's medical-marijuana law, which took effect in September 2016, requires dispensaries to be operating by Sept. 8, 2018.

The state will allow 60 dispensaries to be located throughout Ohio, with five earmarked for Franklin County.

An individual diagnosed with one of 20 qualifying medical conditions would, on the recommendation of a physician, be able to apply to the state to receive an identification card that would allow them to obtain, possess and use medical marijuana for treatment.

Most central Ohio suburbs -- including Westerville, Dublin and Upper Arlington -- have placed moratoriums on or outright banned dispensaries from operating within their limits.

Grandview council member Steve Reynolds, who is in favor of allowing some type of retail dispensary in Grandview, said extending the moratorium for a few months longer "would allow us to move forward and find a way to best allow dispensaries" in Grandview.

No one on council -- and likely few in the community -- favor allowing a cultivation or processing operation within city limits, he said, but there are strong arguments on both sides of the dispensary question, Reynolds said.

Councilman Chris Smith suggested the city look at changing its zoning regulations to require dispensaries be located a certain distance away from schools or libraries.

The operations could be permitted on Goodale Boulevard, for example, he said.

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