Grandview Heights City Council member Steve Reynolds has drafted legislation that would open up a sliver of the city to potential medical-marijuana dispensaries.

However, the state's deadlines could mean the discussion is moot, at least for the time being.

Reynolds said he drafted the pair of ordinances to allow council to "hit the ground running" on its discussion of the issue in the new year.

Council will have one new member in 2018: Melanie Houston, who won election in November. Councilman Steve Papineau did not run for re-election.

Reynolds presented his proposed legislation at council's Dec. 4 meeting and said he plans to formally introduce the ordinances at the first meeting of 2018, scheduled for Jan. 2.

On Dec. 4, council unanimously voted to extend the city's moratorium on retail dispensaries for an additional month. The moratorium was set to expire Dec. 5.

Last month, council approved a ban on medical-marijuana cultivation and processing operations in the city, but did not reach consensus on whether dispensaries also should be prohibited.

Reynolds said his first proposed ordinance would be "very similar" to the original measure council adopted to ban cultivation and processing operations.

It would prohibit retail dispensaries as an allowable activity in certain permitted uses in zoning districts in the city.

The second ordinance would "carve out" a small portion of Grandview zoned M-1 light industrial as a potential area where dispensaries could be allowed.

"Essentially, we'd be talking about a small area that's south of Goodale and more or less east of Oxley Road," Reynolds said.

The area would meet the restrictions set by Ohio Revised Code that require medical-marijuana dispensaries to be at least 500 feet from a school, park or playground, he said.

If council chose to adopt only the first ordinance, it would be extending the city's ban to include dispensaries, Reynolds said.

"My hope is that we can pass both pieces of legislation" and so allow for the potential of a dispensary being located in Grandview, providing a source of comfort and relief for patients who desire it, he said.

Either way council might go on the issue, residents would have an opportunity to challenge the decision with a ballot initiative, Reynolds said.

Council scheduled a planning and administration committee meeting for Dec. 11 to begin discussing the proposed legislation.

However, even if council had not voted to extend the moratorium on retail dispensaries, there was little chance a dispensary would "pop up" in Grandview, City Attorney Joelle Khouzam said

That's because the deadline to file a dispensary-license application with the state already has passed, she said.

Khouzam said any ordinance approved by council would apply only if Ohio leaders choose to increase the number of dispensaries allowed in Franklin County, or other special circumstances.

Reynolds said despite the low odds of such situations, it is important for the city to take action.

"While the initial allocation seems to be settled and we think we know where the physical locations of the dispensaries (approved by the state) will be, there could be a reallocation next year or a relocation of dispensary sites approved by the state," Reynolds said.

"To just hide our heads in the sand and say, 'This isn't likely to happen here, so we don't need to do anything' and not pass some sort of legislation would be irresponsible," he said. "No matter how unlikely it may be, we need to take a position."

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 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's 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.

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 allocated by region, not by county. Franklin County will have five dispensaries.

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.

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