Shelby City Council Passes Two Medical Marijuana Ordinances

  • 1/7/2019 10:21:29 PM
  • Jesse Smith
  • Local News

SHELBY, OH - At the January 7th meeting of the Shelby City Council, two ordinances were passed relating to the prohibition of medical marijuana within Shelby city limits.

"Essentially, (the ordinances say) that the retail dispensing of medical marijuana and marijuana can't happen inside the city limits of the City of Shelby," said Nathan Martin, a member of Shelby City Council representing the 4th Ward. "They're essentially zoning ordinances, for lack of a better term. Anybody who is (dispensing medical marijuana) unofficially or officially within the city limits can be charged with a misdemeanor. It's just a way to enforce that we don't want that in our community."

According to Martin, business owners within the Shelby community have approached him and asked him to sponsor the city ordinance, helping to lead to its passage at Monday night's meeting.

"I have heard from a lot of constituents and people concerned about the issue and they're okay with other towns doing it - whether it's Columbus or larger communities," Martin said. "They just felt that for our community, that it wasn't something that fit with the economic development and the businesses, and the kind of businesses that we want to attract to our area."

However, not everyone on Shelby's City Council was pleased with the passage of the ordinances. One member of council feels that not only do the ordinances not do anything for the city, but that they're actually bad for the area.

"Initially, I had signed on as a co-sponsor of both ordinances and had voted in the affirmative for both first reading and second reading," said Garland Gates, a member of Shelby City Council representing the 3rd Ward. "This evening, after having received an email from the law director saying that doctors, nurses, (OhioHealth) Shelby Hospital and pharmacists in this town could be criminally liable under this ordinance, I objected vociferously and requested my name be stricken as a sponsor."

During the meeting, Gates made a number of arguments to his colleagues in the City Council. Citing not only the city law director's concerns over medical practices but also the message these ordinances sent to future potential businesses in the area, Gates attempted to sway opinion in the room but was unsuccessful. 

"My protestations fell on deaf ears," Gates said. "My colleagues for, quite honestly, unfounded reasons, went ahead and passed the ordinance four to one."

What prompted the creation of the ordinance was, in Gates' opinion, several entities and individuals who did not represent the interests of the City of Shelby. In previous city council meetings, various presentations and public comments were heard from concerned citizens in nearby townships and cities who were unsure of the effects the medical marijuana industry would have on their own nearby communities.

"There was an outside group that came into Shelby last year and was pushing for this ordinance," Gates recalled. "I had mentioned earlier in the discussion that I had had no one in the 3rd Ward that had come to me and spoken in favor of this piece of legislation. Now, that's not a requirement, but it's unusual to have an ordinance with this great of an impact that I get no comments from any of my constituents."

The council struck Gates' name from the list of members sponsoring the two ordinances, and they passed nearly unanimously. As the medical marijuana issue continues to unfold across Ohio, developing businesses will have to look elsewhere as the Shelby community shuts its doors.

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