DUBLIN, Ohio — Medical marijuana will be sold in Ohio next year — but don’t count on picking up a prescription at your neighborhood dispensary.
Ohio’s law allows cities, villages and townships to restrict the number of marijuana businesses that can operate within their limits or ban them altogether. And more than 50 municipalities already have passed temporary or permanent bans, some because of public safety concerns.
Some cities, driven by economic interests, have opened the doors to medical marijuana in their communities. But some affluent suburban Columbus communities are approaching the industry with caution.
Ohio Matters is a series examining important national issues through the eyes of people living across the state.
As part of the Ohio Matters series, cleveland.com talked to folks in the central Ohio communities of Dublin and Upper Arlington to get their opinions about the pros and cons of medical marijuana businesses.
This well-to-do suburb of Columbus voted in June to bar dispensaries from opening in the city, citing legal and safety concerns.
Among those concerns: Marijuana is still a federally illegal substance. Banks, credit unions and credit card companies are reluctant to provide services to legal marijuana businesses because of uncertainty about federal regulators, leaving most businesses to operate on a cash-only basis. That could attract crime, such as robberies and theft.
Ohio is looking into a cashless medical marijuana system, but it’s not yet a sure thing.
For city leaders, those concerns outweighed any economic benefit.
“The answer is yes – safety and legal concerns outweighed the business of medical marijuana,” Dublin spokeswoman Sue Burness said.
One city resident share similar concerns in an interview with cleveland.com outside a downtown ice cream shop.
Loni Stone, is a 36-year-old stay-at-home mother. She previously worked in law enforcement in California, and recalls how robberies at marijuana dispensaries shook the community — and strained police resources.