At the Legislative Committee Meeting on October 21, 2019, John Gabriel, Council Representative to the Vermilion Planning Commission, conveyed that after much deliberation, a public hearing, and much discussion and review of literature, the Planning Commission voted 3-0 to prohibit medical marijuana, the cultivation, sale and distribution anywhere in any of Vermilion’s zoning codes.
“Even though there wasn’t that much discussion that night, I did speak with the members and some of the thoughts relayed to me were that because it’s already all around us, why do we need it here,” stated Gabriel. “Whether that’s what council feels, this is what the Planning Commission felt about this matter and this is an important part of the process.”
Council Member Brian Holmes said he read the Sunday’s Elyria Chronicle which had a great section covering medical marijuana and he encouraged council to read this article to help expand and educate them on this topic. He said they discuss how a lot of these are popping up in municipalities, and there are some bank issues with not wanting to fund them.
Gabriel said he has never been a part of any council that has overturned a board decision.
“However, I do think there are a lot of possibilities, and in my opinion they were talking medical marijuana and they’re talking about something you would need a prescription for by a physician educated in the matter,” said Gabriel. “There’s always a possibility without overturning their decision that they could put it on the ballot and go to the voters to decide.
Council Member Barb Brady didn’t think this was a bad choice.
Steve Herron, President of Council, agreed, but said the voters did speak and the State of Ohio changed its Constitution to allow it.
“The wisdom of whether having it here or not - I respect the decision of that commission, but the people spoke, and like it or not it’s here,” said Herron. “They must consider – do the citizens in Vermilion get different treatment if they don’t act. The citizens of Vermilion have a right to equal protection under the law.”
Brady said its equal access and Herron agreed. Herron said he has watched friends and love ones deal with pain management issues and if they have a physician that is going to help them, then they need to consider the fact that the people of Vermilion have that right to access. If council says no, then it doesn’t mean the people of Vermilion can’t go to another community and get it.
Monica Stark, Chairwoman, said as a council they put a moratorium on medical marijuana so do they continue with the moratorium if they follow the recommendation of the Planning Commission?
Herron said they could always enact legislation making the moratorium language permanent. However, they could let it lapse and then whoever wants to do business in that manner will have to go get their financing. He said it makes him nervous because if you can’t get financing then where are you getting your money to run this business, and then you start getting into law enforcement and it gets shady.
Brady asked if the Planning Commission rejected just the growing aspect, or did they reject the growing and the dispensary? Gabriel conveyed the vote was a complete straight-line prohibition. There was no aspect that was voted on separately. Brady said council could look at not growing and dispensary, one or the other. Herron said council could do whatever they wanted. Holmes clarified that growing is not out in the open – it’s in a contained building.
Stark asked the clerk when the moratorium expires, and Gwen Fisher determined the moratorium expires January 2020. Stark said council can decide what they want to do before this expires.