Wauseon City Council took the first step Monday in banning medical marijuana operations and sales.
By a 5-1 vote, the council passed the first reading of an ordinance that would amend Section 1114 of the city’s codified ordinances to forbid cultivators, processors, and retailers of medical cannabis. Councilor Scott Stiriz cast the negative vote.
The ordinance states that because marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration with “no currently accepted medical use and high potential for abuse… the only prudent course is to prohibit such businesses and trades…”
The ordinance would ban the cultivation, processing, and retailing of medical marijuana within city limits. Previously, the city had placed an extended moratorium on medical marijuana.
Two more readings of the ordinance must pass for it to become law.
The City Council meeting began with a short presentation for Marsy’s Law For All by Emily Hunter, an Ohio field director for the movement. The advocacy group is seeking to include the law into the Ohio Constitution.
It gives rights to victims of crimes, including: receiving information about their rights and services available to them; the right to be notified of proceedings and changes in status for their offenders; and the right to provide input in their offender’s case and to receive restitution.
“I feel Marsy’s Law is incredibly important for the State of Ohio,” said Hunter, a sexual assault survivor. “I made a promise to myself and other victims that I was going to fight to the very end to ensure that no victim has to go through what I’ve been through.”
She said Marsy’s Law has an 87 percent informed voter approval rating, and has been endorsed by numerous Ohio law enforcement agencies, criminal justice departments, advocacy centers and other support groups. She asked City Council “to support victims’ rights to ensure that every victim in Ohio is heard and treated with respect and dignity.”
Marsy’s Law was named for Marsalee Nicholas, a University of California student stalked and killed in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend. The law originated in California in 2008, and has been passed in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois.
Hunter agreed with Councilor Shane Chamberlin’s comment, “I think the general theme here is to try to bring the victims’ rights to a level playing field as compared to the defendants’ rights.”
In other business, the city is researching a plan to improve the safety of a section of the bicycle trail crossing Shoop Avenue, the City Council was told Monday.
Public Service Director Dennis Richardson said he and Police Chief Keith Torbet swapped ideas for the project on June 16 with representatives from the Lions Club and a transportation specialist with the Maumee Valley Planning Organization. They also discussed pursuing state or federal grants to fund an improvement at the location.
Richardson said the representatives think “there’s a lot of folks who don’t use that portion of the trail because it’s so hard to get across Shoop Avenue.” He said thus far no accidents or injuries related to crossings at the site have been recorded.
He told council members that possible funding by the Ohio Department of Transportation wouldn’t become available for a year or two, but that the city may be able to make progress in the interim period.
In department reports:
• Chief Torbet announced the next “Coffee With A Cop” event will be held in August.
He said 81 children are attending this week’s Safety City program at Wauseon Primary School, and the recent Youth Police Academy graduated 15 participants.
Torbet also reported that a police dispatcher, Tershelle Smith, has resigned the position to pursue another job out of state. He said the department has begun the process of finding her replacement.
• Richardson said a meeting was held June 8 with Arcadis, a Toledo consulting firm, to review the results of de-watering machines tested the last several months by the Water Reclamation Plant. He said a machine fitting the plant’s needs will be recommended.
He said the city’s Parks and Recreation Department has moved to 765 E. Linfoot St. at Dorothy B. Biddle Park. Richardson said the phones at the new location are not yet operating correctly.
He said his office is currently advertising for the superintendent’s position at the Public Works Department.
And Mayor Kathy Huner reported news she gathered at a statewide mayors’ meeting regarding possible tax changes that could affect small businesses.
“I hope that’s not something we’re going to see. That was not good news for small towns…because small towns and small cities rely on our small businesses,” she said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.