Lebanon votes to prohibit additional medical marijuana businesses

Sep. 19—Lebanon City Council recently voted to amend its zoning code that will prohibit additional medical marijuana related businesses in the city.

The proposed changes were recommended by the city Planning Commission earlier this year. When the matter came to a vote, Mayor Mark Messer, Councilman Matt Sellers, and Councilwoman Kristen Eggers voted against the zoning code amendment.

Eggers, who did some research on medical marijuana, said she encouraged people to read up about cannabis online.

"I find it hypocritical to ban medical marijuana but allow a DORA district, festivals, etc.," she said.

Eggers is not in favor of the ordinance because she said it disallows other operators or restricting it to one operator. Sellers said he voted against it because he felt he had to defend personal liberties and defend the freedom of choice.

He said drugs are dangerous but alcohol use is more addictive than medical marijuana, yet the city permits a DORA district and brewers in the city.

City officials said the new regulation has one exception for the city's lone medical marijuana dispensary already in operation as a conditional use.

The zoning code amendment was developed after council members said they were concerned about the issue last year when a new rule by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy increased the number of medical marijuana dispensary licenses from one to seven in the district that includes Warren, Clinton and Clermont counties.

The state Board of Pharmacy approved adding 73 more dispensary licenses on April 19, 2021 to the 57 current licenses already created. That would bring the total of licenses that could be issued to 130 after the next application round is completed.

Warren, Clinton and Clermont counties are in one of the 31 dispensary zones in the state. There is one dispensary in the zone which is located in Lebanon — About Wellness Ohio, 1525 Genntown Drive, Suite B. The next closest dispensary is Columbia Care Monroe, formerly Strawberry Fields, 300 N. Main St. in Monroe.

Other provisions of the regulations include: — No medical marijuana dispensary shall be located within 500 feet of a school, church, public park, public playground or public library, consistent with state of Ohio spacing requirements. — The exterior of any medical marijuana dispensary shall be properly screened so that its activities, with exception of any administrative tasks occurring inside the facility, could not be seen by the public within the right of way. — An application for zoning verification permit shall be made to the City of Lebanon and shall include copies of the application for and the provisional license granted by the Ohio Department of Commerce.