Butler County will be home to two medical marijuana dispensaries, but most jurisdictions have banned the new businesses, either temporarily or permanently.
Trenton is one of the last communities to issue an outright ban, with city council set to approve such a measure next week.
“With the state regulating where the dispensaries go, and the two already having been awarded for Butler County our (permanent) moratorium may be a moot point anyway,” Trenton Mayor Calvin Woodrey said. “But you know, legislation can always be changed.”
Woodrey said he sees legalized medical marijuana in Ohio as a stepping stone to lawful recreational use.
“If it was purely a medical marijuana issue, it would have been in the drug stores and we wouldn’t be seeing special legislation just for (setting up dispensaries),” he said.
“Anything they write prescriptions for, with the exception of medical marijuana, you can get at a drugstore. So why do we have to have a special dispensary for that? To me it’s just a stepping stone towards the recreational use,” said Woodrey.
Woodrey isn’t the only Butler County government official with these views.
West Chester Twp. — which had an early suitor for the new business model — completely banned marijuana businesses.
“The recreational thing is coming and they want to sell it through the same dispensaries,” Trustee Mark Welch said he realized early on in the process.
There is an effort underway to place a statewide question on the ballot next year legalizing all marijuana use. A similar question was struck down by voters in 2015.
Supporters must gather at least 305,591 signatures of registered Ohio voters to put the issue before voters.
The state approved two dispensaries in Butler County, one in Monroe — a grow license was also approved there — and the other in Seven Mile.
Monroe City Manager Bill Brock said his council discussed the issue and decided to regulate the new businesses — cultivation, processing and dispensing of medical marijuana — through existing zoning laws.
As for the potential of legalized recreational use, he said no one has raised any red flags yet.
“We will continue to study the impacts and how it will effect the community, take some public input on it and go from there,” Brock said.
Elsewhere in Butler County, Hamilton, Liberty Twp., Middletown and Fairfield have banned the sale of the drug. Liberty Twp., Middletown and Fairfield have also banned cultivation and production. Fairfield and Ross townships are still under moratoriums. Oxford has not banned medical marijuana businesses.
Liberty Twp. instituted a full ban last year, with the understanding they can revisit the issue at a later time if they believe the township could benefit from those types of businesses.
Liberty Twp. Trustee Steve Schramm said he is convinced Ohio will ultimately become a fully marijuana-friendly state.
“This is going to be a moving target for a long time. I would say for the first several years that it’s in place they’ll be adjusting it,” he said. “It’s like so many things the government does, let’s get it started first and figure out how it works second. It’s going to be an interesting roll out.”