The June 4 announcement by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy that one of the five Franklin County medical-marijuana dispensaries granted licenses will be located just outside of Grandview Heights will not impact the upcoming referendum on whether the city's ban on dispensaries within city limits should be overturned.
The board granted a license to Cannamed Therapeutics to operate a dispensary at 656 Grandview Ave., next to the Woodland's Backyard bar and a stone's throw from the city's southern limits.
City Council voted 4-3 in April to prohibit medical-marijuana dispensaries in the city. Council previously passed legislation to ban cultivation and processing operations in Grandview.
"The petition to place a referendum on the ballot had enough valid signatures and we sent it back to Grandview Heights, and they will now determine if it meets the standard to go on the ballot for November," said Aaron Sellers, public information officer for the Franklin County Board of Elections.
Placing the measure on the ballot should be "just a formality now," he said.
The filing deadline for the Nov. 6 election for local questions and issues is Aug. 8 -- 90 days before the election, Sellers said.
Councilman Steve Reynolds, who opposed banning dispensaries in Grandview, said he was pleased a dispensary is slated to be located near the city.
"From a near-term perspective, I'm happy that Grandview residents will be in a position to have convenient access to medical marijuana if that is something they need," he said.
"From a long-term perspective, they are leasing the space, so there is no guarantee about how long the dispensary may operate out of that location, so the referendum is still an important issue for our voters to decide," Reynolds said.
It's a strong possibility that applicants who were not granted licenses may decide to appeal or challenge the pharmacy board's decisions, he said.
"What happens if the bar that's located next door decides they want to expand?" Reynolds said. "We don't know whether this dispensary may only be in operation for one or two years and ends up closing.
"People who support the effort to overturn council's decision shouldn't assume the referendum's no longer needed just because it looks like a dispensary is going to open so close to our city," Reynolds said. "A lot of factors could impact whether the dispensary is going to be there long term."
Councilwoman Emily Keeler sponsored the legislation to ban dispensaries in Grandview.
Grandview can only address issues in its own jurisdiction, and that's what her legislation, supported by a majority on council, did, she said.
"We can't tell other communities what to do; we can just make decisions about our own community," Keeler said. "Our residents shop at stores and patronize businesses outside of our community all the time."
In that sense, the dispensary will be not different than any other business for the patients who require or desire its services, she said.
A common source of confusion that also applies to businesses located outside of but near Grandview may also apply to Cannamed Therapeutics, Keeler said.
"Some people may think they are located in Grandview and wonder why a dispensary is opening after we approved the ban," she said. "I don't know if that may impact how people vote on the referendum."
Council President Greta Kearns said she was not surprised that a dispensary license was granted so close to Grandview.
"There were at least three applications for locations within areas close to Grandview," she said. "We are a small community that borders several other communities -- Columbus, Upper Arlington, Marble Cliff -- so even as we were going through our legislative process, this was something I thought was likely to happen.
"That's why I could never understand the argument that was being made that residents in our city wouldn't have access to a dispensary," Kearns said.
Her vote in favor of the ban on dispensaries within Grandview "was a land-use issue," she said. "The state left it up to individual communities to decide the matter for themselves.
"We have limited available property in Grandview and it's a question of what is the most appropriate and best use of that land," Kearns said. "I didn't see any compelling economic-development reason to allow this particular type of operation."
Kearns said she wasn't sure whether council would have to formally approve legislation to place the referendum on the ballot, given that the petition had more than enough valid signatures.
If legislation is necessary, it would be approved before the filing deadline, she said.
More than 370 applications were submitted for the 56 statewide dispensary licenses and 68 applicants vied for the five Franklin County locations.
The other licenses granted in Franklin County are:
• Greenleaf Apothecaries, 111 Vine St. across from the North Market in downtown Columbus.
• Harvest of Ohio, 2950 N. High St., just south of Weber Road in Clintonville.
• 127 OH, 1361 Georgesville Road, adjacent to the Walmart off Interstate 270 on the west side.
• Verdant Creations, which does not have a building site yet, just a parcel of land on Cassady Avenue on the east side.