It appears Grandview Heights voters will have the chance to decide whether medical-marijuana dispensaries should be prohibited in the city.

Grandview resident Michelle Kozak said she and a group of five volunteers collected 412 signatures to place a referendum to overturn the ban on the November ballot.

A total of 275 valid signatures, representing 10 percent of the 2,750 Grandview residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election, are required to get the measure on the fall ballot.

"An attorney we spoke with suggested that we try to get 50 percent more than 275 signatures, just to be sure that we have plenty of room to spare in case some signatures have to be thrown out," said Kozak, who led the effort to collect signatures with her husband, Terry Eisele.

"We got about that many," she said. "I went down to the board of elections to check each signature, and they all seem to be from registered voters who live in Grandview, so I think we're going to be OK."

The signatures needed to be collected by May 2, which was 30 days since council voted 4-3 to add dispensaries to previous legislation that prohibits cultivation and processing operations in Grandview.

Kozak said she has turned the signatures in to the city.

Under state law regarding referendums, a petition is first submitted to the city fiscal officer or village clerk, who then submits to the board of elections a copy of the petition and the ordinance in question, said Aaron Sellers, public-information officer for the Franklin County Board of Elections.

"We are the ones who will verify if the signatures are valid and certify placing the referendum on the ballot," he said.

Within 10 days of receiving the petition, the board of elections will return the document to the city with a statement certifying the number of valid signatures and the referendum will be placed on the next general election ballot, which in this instance will be November 2018, Sellers said.

Some of those who signed the petition were not necessarily in favor of allowing dispensaries in the city, Kozak said.

"They just believed it was something that the residents should decide," she said. "They'd ask us whether we were in favor of dispensaries, and we said our main issue was that it's something that people in the community should have a right to vote on."

But most people she talked to seemed "to have no problem" with the idea of having a medical-marijuana dispensary in town, Kozak said.

"I met a lot of people who have had cancer and who would have benefited from being prescribed medical marijuana," she said.

Whether the ban is reversed or sustained, the likelihood of a dispensary opening in Grandview is low.

The state's preliminary list of applicants for dispensaries in Franklin County, released in February, included none within the city of Grandview Heights -- though three potential locations are within a stone's throw of the city's borders in Columbus.

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

The law requires dispensaries to be at least 500 feet away from a school, playground or park, limiting possible locations in Grandview.

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

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

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 him or her to obtain, possess and use medical marijuana for treatment.

Kozak said she and her group of volunteers are not planning to campaign for the referendum if it goes on the ballot.

"We may put together some fliers to give people some information," she said.

"I think a lot of people haven't had a chance to read up on the issue," Kozak said. "They were surprised to learn how strong the state's regulations are regarding dispensaries.

"For example, doctors won't be able to prescribe smoking marijuana. It would be in edible or liquid form."


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