Updating Cannabis Ordinances: Letter To Lakewood City Council

Dear Colleagues,

On November 7th, 2023 Ohio voters passed Issue 2, a measure to insert language as Chapter 3780 into the Ohio Revised Code(ORC)to allow for the use of and regulation of marijuana like alcohol, and an overwhelming 80% of Lakewood voters who turned out supported the measure.

Chapter 3780 went into effect onDecember 7th; however, residents have expressed considerable confusion regarding the legality of adult use marijuana within the City and the State. This communication and the following ordinances are intended to alleviate this confusion and align the Lakewood codified ordinances with the spirit and intention of Issue 2.

One of the factors creating confusion for voters is that Issue 2 enacted language in the ORC (Ohio Revised Code), rather than amending the Ohio Constitution like Issue 1. This means that legislators in the Ohio Senate and Ohio House have the authority to amend the code. Currently there are two significantly different adult-use marijuana bills vying for adoption at the Statehouse, HB 354 and a revised Senate-passed measure HB 86. It is unknown if either of these bills will pass, or what will be included in the final language.

The current language of ORC Chapter 3780 includes:

--Allowing for the possession by an adult 21 or over of 2.5 ounces of adult-use cannabis in any form except extract, which is limited to 15 grams.

--Allowing for the home growth of 6 plants per adult 21 or over and not more than 12 cannabis plants at a single residence where two or more individuals who are at least 21 reside at anyone time.

--Establishment of a Division of Cannabis Control within the Department of Commerce to ensure the proper oversight and control of the adult use cannabis industry including licensing of adult-use dispensaries, processors,and cultivators.

--Creation of funds generated by a 10% sales tax on adult use cannabis with 36% to the social equity and jobs fund, 36% to the host municipality, 25% to the substance abuse and addiction fund, and 3% to the division of cannabis control.

Regarding possession and home growth, following this communication is Ordinance 40-2023, which amends the Lakewood criminal code, Codified Ordinances 513.01, 513.02, 513.03, and 513.045 to reflect the current language of Chapter 3780.

Another aspect creating confusion for voters is that the Division of Cannabis Control has a period of nine months after December 7th(Aug 7th) to create the rules, regulations, and safeguards necessary to license adult-use marijuana dispensaries, processors, and cultivators. It is estimated that these regulations will not be finalized until late summer of 2024, with the first state licenses issued no earlier than fall of 2024.

At the request of the Mayor and the City of Lakewood Law Department, City Council recently passed Resolution 2023-64 which expresses the City’s awareness of these factors, and the intention to wait until the State permitting process is finalized to begin permitting additional marijuana adult-use dispensaries in the City of Lakewood.

It is important to note that Resolution 2023-64 does not speak to nor impact the currently permitted Medical Marijuana dispensaries within the City of Lakewoodor their ability to dispense adult-use cannabis should it be permitted by the State, nor does it speak to or impact the other elements of Issue 2, including possession or cultivation.

While the State finalizes their rules and regulations, the City of Lakewood can and should use this period to prepare for how we want adult-use businesses to move forward in our community. Following this communication are Ordinance 41-2023 , amending the City of Lakewood’s permitting process to allow for adult use dispensaries and Ordinance 42-2023 amending Lakewood’s zoning code to allow for adult use dispensaries in commercial districts. 

We respectfully request Ordinance 40-2023 be referred to Public Safety, Ordinance 41-2023 be referred to Housing, Planning, and Development, and Ordinance 42-2023 be referred concurrently to the Planning Commission and to Housing, Planning, and Developmentfor further discussion.

Sincerely, 

Vice President Sarah Kepple, Councilmember At Large 

Jason Shachner, Councilmember Ward 2

Cindy Marx, Councilmember Ward 4

Tristan Rader, Councilmember At Large

Kyle Baker Councilmember, Ward 1

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Volume 20, Issue 4, Posted 1:44 PM, 02.21.2024