Prairie Township is just saying "no" to medical marijuana businesses.
Township trustees on Jan. 17 unanimously approved a resolution banning such businesses, including cultivation sites and dispensaries, from opening anywhere in the township.
Prairie Township joins other communities, including Grove City and New Albany, in enacting a complete ban. In November, Hilliard City Council decided against a ban but established guidelines that limit dispensaries largely to areas north of Cemetery Road, between Lyman Drive and Interstate 270. Any cultivation or processing operation would only be permissible in certain areas zoned rural residential and industrial.
Ohio's medical marijuana law, which took effect in 2016, requires dispensaries to be operational by this September. Franklin County is permitted to have up to five dispensaries.
Steve Kennedy, chairman of the board of trustees, said the township can rescind the resolution in the future, but right now, he believes there are still too many unknowns.
Trustee Cathy Schmelzer said she also is concerned about the proximity of most commercial areas -- where such businesses would be located -- to schools and daycares.
Prairie Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker agreed that too many unknowns exist now about marijuana-related businesses. Even though officials understand that medical marijuana is now legal, he said, too many questions remain about how the industry will develop in Ohio.
Hatmaker said just because the township has prohibited marijuana-associated businesses for now, that doesn't prevent trustees from revisiting or even repealing the ban in the future.
"This is an area where we don't want to be a pioneer. It's an area where it's easier to change your mind," he said. "You can always change your mind if you decide to allow such facilities, but you can't change your mind back once such facilities have come into the township.
"I don't think (trustees) are overreacting to the stigma. It's more that this is such a new thing and it's still not well defined."