LIMA — With a six-month moratorium on the cultivation, processing and dispensing of medical marijuana set to expire Sept. 27, members of Lima City Council’s Safety Services Committee want to hear more from the public before making any recommendations to the council on extending the moratorium or allowing it to expire.
The committee met on Monday to hear updates from the city’s law department on the finalization of state regulations concerning medical marijuana, which are set to come into effect Sept. 8. According to Deputy Law Director John Payne, the state already has more than enough applications for cultivation, of which 24 will be permitted. The state will also approve 40 licenses for processing facilities statewide, with the application process set to finalize in 2018, the same year that dispensaries will first be allowed to open. Payne also said that a total of 60 dispensaries will be licensed, with one of each to be located in designated geographic districts, one of which is made up by Allen, Auglaize and Putnam counties.
Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin again voiced his opposition to placing a marijuana dispensary within the city, voicing concerns that it could lead to increased crime as well as legal confusion between federal and state law regarding marijuana, with federal law still prohibiting it.
“One of the fears I have is that if we allow marijuana trafficking to take place inside city limits, no matter how well-intentioned, could the current administration in Washington say, as they have with sanctuary cities, ‘We’re going to start pulling federal funding?’” Martin said. “That could potentially be something very devastating to our local Police Department.”
For 7th Ward Councilwoman Ann Miles, the decision is difficult, as she has heard from people who are both opposed to it as well as those who see it as a benefit for those with debilitating illnesses.
“I believe, in our city right now, with all the issues we are dealing with, like the opiate issue and other issues, do we really want to put another burden on our Police Department?” she said. “As good as this is intended, there are going to be a lot of adverse effects.”
Taking a different approach, 6th Ward Councilman Derry Glenn instead called for this issue to be placed on the ballot for voters to decide.
“I think we should put in on the ballot and let the people of Lima make that decision,” he said.
For now, the issue was tabled, with the next committee meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 13 in council chambers.
“We’re hoping we’ll have more people come out and express their opinion, pro and con,” Miles said. “We want to be able to have some input from them.”