The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2024

Council makes decision on dispensaries

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

After weeks of discussion, Van Wert City Council made it official Monday night – medical marijuana dispensaries are now permitted within the city limits, but adult use facilities, often referred to as recreational dispensaries, are prohibited.

Medical marijuana dispensaries

Council members heard the third and final reading of an ordinance to rescind a ban on such facilities in the city. The local ban was enacted after medical marijuana became legal in Ohio in late 2016. Monday’s vote to formally lift it was 5-1 in favor, with council members Jana Ringwald, Jeff Kallas, Jeff Agler, Julie Moore and Bill Marshall voting “yes.” At-Large Councilwoman Judy Bowers was the only “no” vote, and Second Ward Councilman Jordan Dettrow was absent from the meeting.

Kari Stan gives city council the ins-and-outs of medical marijuana dispensaries. Scott Truxell/VW independent

Before the third and final vote, members of Van Wert City Council heard from several people in the audience, including Pentecostal Way Church Pastor Bill Watson and a woman who recently lost her nephew to a drug overdose. They urged council to reject both medical and adult-use dispensaries.

Council members also heard a presentation from Keri Stan, district manager for five medical cannabis retailers in Ohio. She explained highly restricted and regulated security procedures.

“The first thing that’s going to happen is a guard is going to ask to see a driver’s license or state issued ID proving that person is over the age of 21,” she stated. “After that, they go to a receptionist and show their driver’s license or state issued ID and ask to see a doctor’s recommendation or a state medical card.”

She added no one under 21 is allowed in a dispensary under any circumstances. She went on to explain that IDs are scanned for verification purposes and then customers are checked into a queue and must wait in a lobby for a sales associate to take them into the dispensary room.

“You can’t just walk from the lobby into the dispensary room, it’s got a locked door between the two,” she stated. “Our company runs a one-to-one ratio, so there’s only one customer per one associate so we don’t have 20 people with two associates.”

Stan also said IDs are checked a third time before any transaction is completed. She explained that when the store is closed, all medical marijuana must be stored in a vault and she noted that video cameras cover every square inch of the dispensary. She noted her company works with various organizations, including American Legion Posts and local animal shelters to help raise funds for those organizations.

Council members also heard the third and final reading of an ordinance that limits medical marijuana dispensaries to the B-3 zoned districts in the city. It was approved unanimously, 6-0.

Recreational marijuana dispensaries

Before the final vote on medical marijuana dispensaries, Van Wert City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that bans adult-use, or recreational marijuana facilities in the city. That piece if legislation was passed as an emergency measure and goes into effect immediately. It effectively eliminates the possibility of dual-use marijuana dispensaries in Van Wert. However, Councilman At-Large Jeff Kallas noted that a future council could rescind the ban.

Last November, Ohio voters approved a ballot issue that made recreational marijuana legal. However, it gave municipalities the power to prohibit recreational marijuana dispensaries. Another part of the law states a household is allowed to grow up to six pot plants at home.

Other legislation

Another piece of marijuana legislation had its second reading Monday night. It prohibits anyone under 21 from purchasing, transporting or using cannabis in the city. Ohio Revised Code already has a such a ban, but it doesn’t include a penalty for anyone who violates the law. The vote was 6-0 in favor and If approved on its third and final reading at the next meeting, it would make it a fourth degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

Check Wednesday’s News page for more information from Monday night’s meeting of Van Wert City Council.

POSTED: 07/08/24 at 9:01 pm. FILED UNDER: News