Medical marijuana debate lights up again

City council continues to debate whether or not to allow medical marijuana cultivation and dispensaries in the city. Ward 6 Councilman Dan Kasaris scheduled a Review and Oversight Committee meeting March 6 ahead of the lapsing moratorium.

NORTH ROYALTON – For the fourth time in 18 months, medical marijuana will be discussed with the third consecutive six-month moratorium set to lapse March 31.

A Review and Oversight Committee meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. March 6 to discuss the topic at length at the request of Ward 6 Councilman Dan Kasaris, who chairs the committee.

He said with the moratorium scheduled to lapse, it’s prudent to decide what council wants to do with the issue.

“We can do another moratorium if we want and if there is cause, we can do nothing or we can ban it. We will talk about it on the 6th and if we need legislation, we will have legislation for the 20th. But because it is lapsing on the 31st, it behooves us to discuss it again to figure out what we want to do with it,” Kasaris explained.

Back on Oct. 3, council opted to enact this latest six-month moratorium that is expiring. Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw, chair of council’s Safety Committee, had been pushing council to ban the substance outright, but several colleagues were reluctant to do so at the time stating that they would prefer to wait on the state to finalize its processes first before making a decision one way or the other.

Langshaw has stated several reasons why he is against medical marijuana: it is classified as a Schedule 1 drug and is illegal in the eyes of the federal government, though the Department of Justice has indicated it will not interfere with states that choose to legalize it; a lack of trust in the state to properly regulate it; and that he believes there is not enough research to determine the effects marijuana has on the body.

Langshaw was the sole no vote against the latest moratorium. Council voted against Langshaw’s legislation, which would have banned the cultivation and dispensary of medical marijuana, during the Oct. 17 meeting. Langshaw was the sole vote in favor of the ban then.

Council members said at the time they weren’t ready to permanently close the door on something that hasn’t been fully formed and implemented and could be of medical benefit.

Fast forward six months, and the word “ban” is being tossed around again, which has Langshaw scratching his head.

“Nothing has changed. I think the chairman (Kasaris) may have forgotten that council had a vote back in October of 2017 on my ban of medical marijuana in the city and it was overwhelmingly rejected by council by a vote of 1-6 with me being the sole yes vote,” he said. “It is further disappointing that the chairman did not join me in voting yes especially since he has claimed he is against it too yet his recorded vote says something completely different.”

Kasaris said he supported the moratorium because it had the same effect as a ban – it prohibited the substance in the city. He said the city is so late in the game with cultivation and dispensary permits already issued that even if North Royalton wanted to allow medical marijuana to be grown and dispensed here, it is too late.

“I did not forget how I voted. Whatever council decides to do they do, but it’s time to talk about it because the moratorium is expiring. Personally, I’m a law enforcement officer, and this is a Schedule 1 drug and I don’t support it. It’s classified the same as heroin, the same as ecstasy, but I’m not out here pushing my view on other people. My agenda is to find out what the rest of council thinks is in the best interest of the residents of the city of North Royalton,” Kasaris said.

Medical marijuana was legalized last year via Ohio House Bill 523, creating the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program that will allow Ohioans with certain medical conditions to obtain a recommendation for medical marijuana, purchase it from a licensed dispensary and consume it.

The creation and implementation of specific rules and guidelines regarding the cultivation, processing, testing, dispensing and medical use has been the task of the Ohio Department of Commerce, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy and the State Medical Board.

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