LIMA — While medical marijuana will be law in Ohio as of Sept. 8 the means to dispense the drug locally will be a heated topic if the city’s Safety Services committee discussion Monday is any indication.
Third Ward Councilman Jesse Lowe II sat in on the hearing and voiced his opposition loud and clear.
“I don’t agree with any of this. I would like to see if there is a point we couldn’t sell it period,” Lowe said. “Anything that comes before council I’m going to say no.”
But 5th Ward Councilwoman Teresa Adams, also sitting in the audience, said there are people who legitimately need medical marijuana, and compared it to prescription drugs that pharmacies in town sell and some people abuse.
“People need this medication in their home. I hope to never have to use that medication but I like to know it’s there if I have to use it,” Adams said.
Committee Chair C. Ann Miles who represents Lima’s 7th Ward said she wants to hold more hearings including testimony from doctors on medical marijuana. She said taking the time will give residents a chance to voice concerns before the committee or to their councilperson.
Lima Law Director Tony Geiger said the real issue that eventually the council will have to decide is where the dispensing locations will be. Council can ban dispensaries altogether from the city. There are already restrictions in the state law such as none within 500 feet of a school or church, Geiger said.
Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin said he is opposed to medical marijuana and cited research from Denver that suggest it increased crime.
Lima Police Officer Trent Kunkleman, who is a member of the local drug task force, said people kill and commit other crimes over the drug just like other illegal drugs.
“We have had shootings and homicides over this. The gentleman on North Metcalf just got killed over a dime bag,” Kunkleman said.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed in June a bill to make Ohio the 26th state in the country to legalize marijuana for medical use. The law goes into effect in early September.
Patients suffering from one of 21 debilitating diseases or medical conditions will be allowed to travel to other states such as Michigan, where marijuana already is legal, and bring it back to Ohio for medical use consistent with Ohio’s law.
Marijuana may be ingested, used in an oil, vapor, patch, tincture and plant matter form. Smoking and home growing of marijuana remains illegal. Those provisions were carefully considered by state lawmakers who wanted to prevent illegal marijuana users from claiming they had to use due to a medical condition.
The state also has plans to create an official registration card for patients to have in case they are stopped by police and found with marijuana.
Ohio is expected to have a plan in place in two years to grow, process, test and sell various strands of medical marijuana. The plan is for a state-run or licensed system of growing facilities, testing labs, physician certification and patient registration.
Marijuana can be used to treat people who have chronic pain and people who have seizure problems, which marijuana can dramatically reduce seizures in some people.
The federal government still classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.