Lakewood is soon to welcome medical marijuana dispensaries into its areas. Lakewood City Council passed a new law on October 2. This ordinance immediately authorizes the city to start reviewing applications for dispensary licenses. The city will start issuing said licenses in 40 days, when the legislation goes into effect.
Citing a horde of studies that link legalized medical pot with declining opioid overdose rates, Councilman Daniel O’Malley said, “I am hopeful that this ordinance will actually mitigate a very serious problem that we have with opioid abuse.” Currently, the nation is facing a widespread epidemic of heroin and opioid prescription drugs, with addiction and overdose problems plaguing every demographic.
On September 8 last year, Ohio House Bill 523 came into effect, which codified a statewide program of control under which only licensed growers, producers, testing laboratories and dispensaries can conduct legal business in the state. Currently, Lakewood does not permit any cultivation or processing of cannabis plants to operate within city locations.
However, the city does not envision rows of dispensaries in Lakewood, at least not for some time yet. It only anticipates one opening its doors in the city. The state is only issuing five dispensing licenses for medical marijuana in Cuyahoga County. Statewide, the number of licenses is only 60. On November 3, Ohio begins its two-week review of applications for state-level dispensing of medical weed.
Just over a year ago, the Lakewood City Council passed two moratoriums on medical pot companies within the city, which started with a six-month measure approved in July 2016. Lakewood’s new ordinance details an extensive application process that potential dispensaries will have to go through, along with a list of regulations for any that eventually establish themselves within the city, including:
- No medical pot dispensary can operate within 500 feet of any land where a public park, public playground, public library, church, or school is situated. They must also locate themselves at least 1,000 feet from any other medical weed dispensaries in Lakewood, preventing the development of a “medical marijuana district.”
- Dispensaries may only use two colors in their signage. Additionally, they may only write the company’s name on the sign, without using any marijuana imagery, such as cannabis leaves or pot smoking.
- Anyone wanting a license must be a natural citizen 18-years or older to apply. Applicants must not have previously revoked or denied medical dispensary licenses in any jurisdictions within the previous year.
- All applicants for Lakewood dispensary licenses must submit valid retail dispensary licenses or provisional dispensary licenses issued by the state board of pharmacy, or provide proof that they are conducting that application process.
- The Chief of Police must review a security plan for anyone wishing to apply. It should include a detailed diagram of the dispensary’s layout, including where its license will be on prominent display. It must have all locations of security guards, security alarms, and security cameras, as well as an outline of its proposed lighting plan.
- The Director of Public Safety has 90 days to approve or deny all medical dispensary license applications it receives.
- Those granted licenses must pay a $25,000 non-pro-rated license fee to the city every year, as well as 1.5 percent of all gross annual sales they make above the $1.25 million cap.