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Small Ohio Town Grapples with Construction of Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Meg Bucher | Writer and Author | Friday, February 2, 2018

Small Ohio Town Grapples with Construction of Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Huron, Ohio is“A Great Lake Place,” a small town with a handful of stop-lights, situated on the picturesque shores of Lake Erie. But a recent development in its real estate has some residents concerned about the future of the city’s family-friendly atmosphere. Last month, News5Cleveland reported that Ohio Patients’ Choice, which has already begun construction on a large cultivation site in the town, plans to invest $2 million into a medical marijuana dispensary located on a main community intersection. The site, formerly host to the local Burger King, has a contract pending the approval of OPC’s licensure approval with The State Board of Pharmacy.

The local community, including long-time teacher and football coach, Tony Legando, are surprised at the lack of communication concerning the city’s plans to allow the dispensary; especially since it will be prominently located at an intersection that serves as an elementary school entry.“I’m not sure that anybody really thought that this is the entrance for the drop-off and pick-up zone for the kids at our intermediate school,” Legando told .Sarah Phinney of News5Cleveland,“We should be getting a lot of communication about this. That just hasn’t been the case and that’s concerning me.”

The dispensary, pending licensure approval, will sit on the intersection of Cleveland Rd. and Lake Erie Parkway. Though the proposed dispensary site meets the minimum distance from a school of 500 feet as required by Ohio law, the largest elementary school in the city of Huron sits just outside of that legal distance. Every parent and bus driver is currently required to drive right by the possible future site of a marijuana dispensary. “Parents dropping off or picking up intermediate school students should do so from Lake Erie Parkway,” states the school’s newsletter,“After dropping off or picking up your student please continue to follow Lake Erie Parkway back out to Cleveland Rd.”

The opportunism for crime at an all-cash dispensary is also a concern. Even thoughlegislationhas passed to address this problem, the funding to establish it has yet to materialize. The Arizona Daily Sun reported that dispensaries are cash-only, “as marijuana remains listed as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law- putting it in the same category as heroin, LSD and Ecstasy.”

Jeff Grabmeier of The Ohio State University reported on a three-year study in Denver published in the Journal of Primary Prevention: “Researchers found that crime isn’t higher in the area immediately surrounding marijuana outlets. But adjacent areas saw about 84 more property crimes per year than neighborhoods without a nearby marijuana store.” In the small community of Huron, many kids walk or ride their bikes to such neighborhoods. Lead Author of the study, Bridge Freisthler, is a professor of social work at The Ohio State University. She stated in the article:“If you’re doing strictly from a public health standpoint, there is reason to be somewhat concerned about having a marijuana outlet near your home.” In their study, they found that when Colorado’s laws made recreational marijuana legal, “only those dispensaries that already were selling for medical purposes were allowed to apply for a license to sell recreational marijuana.”

News5Cleveland also reported that “The State Board of Pharmacy may award up to 60 dispensary licenses in the spring.” Two dispensaries will be awarded licenses within the four counties where Huron sits. One city within those counties has already rallied together in order to prevent medical marijuana from being processed or sold.

On November 7, 2017, Mansfield City Council members voted 6-1 to ban medical marijuana sales. Law director John Spon, explained, “We have enough addictions in our society, and we don’t need it. We can build industry based upon other facets that don’t add to the social ills or our society.” TheMansfield Police Chief also stated, “We're a community of children and families, and at some point, revenue doesn't matter as much as maintaining the security and sanctity of your community and of your families," he said. "There's other ways to make money.”

Other communities are following suit, leaving some Huron residents hopeful that their community will do the same. In January 2018, after the state had already granted a cultivation license to applicant Paragon for a site in their city, Huber Heights City Council also approved a permanent ban on medical marijuana processors, cultivators, and dispensaries.

Calaveras County, California, home to legal medical marijuana for two decades, has recently reversed its stance, even though the industry generated over $7 million in tax revenue in 2016 alone. Two hundred farmers with permits were given three months to shut down operations.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Arizona since 2010. In the same state, the opioid death rate has increasednearly 75 percent since the legalization. Harvard Health Publishing states the most common use for medical marijuana in the Unites States is pain control, and that at least several million Americans currently use it.

The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program states on its website that, “The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy are required by law to take all actions necessary to ensure that Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program is fully operational no later than September 2018.”

What does that mean for communities like Huron, Ohio?

Local concerned parents can attend the Huron City School Board Meeting on Monday, February 5 at 5:30pm.


Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, http://sunnyand80.org. “Mom” is the most important calling on her life, next to encouraging others to seek Him first … authentically. A writer, dance mom, substitute teacher, youth worship leader/teacher and Bible Study leader, she can often be found having some kind of an adventure in the small little lake town where she resides with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Golden-doodle.

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.com

Publication date: February 2, 2018

Small Ohio Town Grapples with Construction of Medical Marijuana Dispensary