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Medical Marijuana Zoning: Location, Location, Location

The old real estate adage “location, location, location” takes on new meaning in the context of the medical marijuana industry. 

In the recently enacted Medical Marijuana Control Program, the Ohio legislature provided municipalities with the authority to limit or prohibit, effectively “zone-out”, local medical marijuana operations.

This creates a unique problem for applicants venturing into the medical marijuana industry of having to determine where, if at all, they can plant their roots.

The Medical Marijuana Control Program is expected to be fully operational in Ohio by September, 2018. The first wave of medical marijuana cultivation applications were submitted this past June, with 185 total applicants vying for 24 state wide licenses. Cultivation licenses are expected to be awarded by the end of this November, though officials have indicated that licenses could be issued earlier. 

However, the Medical Marijuana Control Program must still undergo the full dispensary application process after the cultivation licenses are awarded, raising concerns that the short timeframe is adding too much pressure on the underlying system to meet the September, 2018 deadline.

For those applicants who still have to obtain local zoning approval, we have included a brief overview of current zoning considerations within the City of Cincinnati and surrounding municipalities.

City Regulations and Medical Marijuana Control Program Zoning Generally:

As a universal requirement for all medical marijuana facilities in Ohio, no marijuana-related business can be located within 500 feet from any schools, churches, day cares, public parks or public playgrounds.

Many cautious municipalities in Ohio have issued moratoriums (temporary bans) on medical marijuana operations within the municipality to provide for further study and consideration.

Cincinnati has enacted a partial one-year moratorium, effective June 7, 2017, prohibiting any medical marijuana facility from being located within a Single Family District or Residential Multi-Family District. However, Cincinnati also subsequently approved an ordinance permitting medical marijuana operations in its existing Manufacturing Districts. It seems clear that Cincinnati will continue to amend its current regulations as it evaluates the most appropriate implementation of the Medical Marijuana Control Program.

To identify Cincinnati zoning districts, Zoning maps may be utilized to find the base zoning district and overlay district where the property is located to determine the applicable zoning laws, or as it relates to medical marijuana operations, to confirm that planned medical marijuana locations are located in zoning districts where operations are permitted under the applicable municipality regulations.

In contrast to the relatively open approach by Cincinnati, several surrounding municipalities have, in some form, either limited or zoned-out the medical marijuana industry, such as the following:

  • Blue Ash
  • Evendale
  • Fairfield
  • Indian Hill
  • Madeira
  • Montgomery
  • Mariemont
  • Sharonville
  • Springdale
  • Wyoming

In order to receive specific guidance on navigating the medical marijuana industry and the zoning laws surrounding it, it is advisable to seek legal counsel.

If you would like to discuss the practical application of the Medical Marijuana Control Program to your business, please contact Kendall P. Kadish at kkadish@kmklaw.com or Richard C. Spoor at rcspoor@kmklaw.com.

Possession and distribution of marijuana for any purpose is illegal under federal law. KMK can only advise clients regarding compliance with Ohio state law on medical cannabis, specifically, Sub H.B. 523 of the 131st General Assembly.

KMK Legal Alerts and Blog Posts are intended to bring attention to developments in the law and are not intended as legal advice for any particular client or any particular situation. Please consult with counsel of your choice regarding any specific questions you may have.

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