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Hilliard debates allowing medical marijuana businesses

City Council members have been weighing whether to approve an ordinance allowing one marijuana dispensary, but no production facilities or growing sites. (WSYX/WTTE)

City leaders in Hilliard will soon decide if they want to allow medical marijuana businesses open within their city limits.

City Council members have been weighing whether to approve an ordinance allowing one marijuana dispensary, but no production facilities or growing sites.

"We've got a lot of open ground here in Hilliard," said Council Member Les Carrier. "I could just imagine a couple of my landscaping buddies saying, 'hey, I could turn my greenhouse into a marijuana plant' and I have some concerns about that."

Supporters for medical marijuana said they're still fighting the stigma surrounding pot.

"I don't think the people of Hilliard see how much it could benefit the community," said Stan Gorski, who runs the plant supply store Hygrowponics in Hilliard. "It's kind of a shame. I'd much prefer them to open it up and say, 'yeah we'd like to have you guys here.'"

Gorski worked for years in the marijuana industry in Colorado. He moved back home to Ohio two years ago and would like to see the same thing happen in his hometown.

Hilliard City Council members may vote as soon as Monday to put a six-month pause on any businesses related to medical marijuana. Various state agencies haven't finalized all of the rules for how medical marijuana will be grown, processed and sold in Ohio. Hilliard council members don't want to make concrete decisions until the state makes up its mind.

"I think it's well within our right as a community to develop the way we want," Carrier said.

Many supporters of medical marijuana said opening up Hilliard to these new businesses could help create jobs.

"If we can get in on the ground floor, help these guys with the supplies, maybe we can expand and have two, three, four, five locations," Gorski said.

The medical marijuana ordinance is on the agenda Monday. Several council members said the six-month moratorium on cannabis businesses could be voted on Monday as well. One member said there has already been interest from several prospective pot businesses. Council members said they don't want to be unprepared for business applications while the state decides what it wants to do.

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