Westerville unanimously passes six-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries

WESTERVILLE, OH (WCMH) — In an unexpected move Tuesday night, the Westerville City Council unanimously passed a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Since last summer, communities across Ohio have taken steps to ban or place a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Brian Wright, the executive director of the Ohio Cannabis Association, said these communities are making a mistake.

“Unfortunately, I think it’s done without an understanding of how carefully the state has been working through this process,” Wright said.

Tuesday night, the city council suspended normal rules and voted unanimously to put a six-month hold on dispensaries in Westerville city limits.

“I think sometimes people see the negative side of a moratorium,” said Westerville Mayor Kathy Cocuzzi. “For us, it’s just a time period where we can come up with the best answers for our community.”

Westerville is the latest in a handful of communities in Central Ohio to put a moratorium in place, joining Groveport and Hilliard. The city of Newark is also in the process of implementing a moratorium.

Meanwhile, Canal Winchester, Worthington and Pataskala have complete bans in process, and the communities of Dublin and Powell are in the process of doing the same.

Wright said that moratoriums like Westerville’s may end up costing the communities money.

“We’re looking at businesses, legitimate business owners that are looking to invest millions,” he said. “If there is a community out there that seems hesitant, resistant, maybe has a negative approach to this, you know, they’re not going to be looking to invest in that community.”

Still, cities need time to make adjustments in order to accommodate these new businesses. Westerville officials said if their residents want a dispensary, they have a lot of work to do.

“A zoning code change that we could have to do, and decide where these places would be good in the city, and the more time we have for that, the better,” Cocuzzi said.

Cocuzzi said she has not heard from any Westerville residents on the issue of medical marijuana dispensaries. She is asking citizens to attend city council meetings and speak up if they have an opinion so city leaders can take the appropriate action.

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