Marijuana companies interested in Lisbon

LISBON — If Village Council wants to ban medical marijuana dispensaries it may have to move quickly.

Mayor Joseph Morenz reported at Tuesday’s council meeting that his office has received two inquiries in recent weeks from companies interested in opening a medical marijuana dispensary in town.

“I just wanted you guys to be aware in case you wanted to do something before someone comes in,” he told council.

Morenz said in recent weeks his secretary received calls from two companies to inquire about village laws that might pertain to medical marijuana dispensaries, which are allowed under a state law passed in 2016 legalizing marijuana for medicinal use only. The mayor’s secretary directed the callers to review village ordinances, which are online, or to call Village Solicitor Megan Bickerton if they have any questions.

There is likely nothing in village law that would specifically prohibit a medical marijuana dispensary from being located in Lisbon, but Bickerton said the state law undoubtedly created regulations and established guidelines.

The law passed by the state legislature allows for medicinal use of marijuana with a prescription. The prescriptions could only be filled at medical marijuana dispensaries, and the state has allotted a total of three to be spread among Columbiana, Carroll, Stark and Tuscarawas counties.

The law allows municipalities to pass laws restricting the location of medical marijuana dispensaries or banning them outright, which many Ohio communities have opted to do, including several in the county.

Council appeared to be caught off guard and did not have an opinion one way or the other, although Council member Jeff Snyder suggested medical marijuana dispensaries could be a way for the village to make money.

“Just put a 10 percent tax on it and tax them,” he said.

Morenz suggested this may be something for Bickerton to look into for discussion at the the next council meeting on Nov. 28.

The law requires medical marijuana to be available by Sept. 18, 2018, although many wonder whether the Ohio Board of Pharmacy will be in a position to regulate them by then or resolve any lawsuits that might arise.