WOODMERE — Village Council will host a committee of the whole meeting on Aug. 4 at 6 p.m. to gather information about medical marijuana dispensaries. Mayor Ben Holbert has received inquiries from three dispensaries about setting up their business in Woodmere. Following those presentations, council members will meet at 7 p.m. and discuss a new ordinance to permit dispensaries.

Village Building Commissioner Rick Loconti said that a medical marijuana dispensary is a permitted use in the U-3 general business district. He said that a medical marijuana dispensary is no different from a drugstore, which is a permitted use in the zoning code. Woodmere is currently home to CVS and Rite Aid stores with pharmacies.

“CVS gives out narcotics all day long and you don’t bat an eye because it’s an accepted practice at a drugstore,” Mr. Loconti said on Tuesday. “A dispensary will require something from your doctor to get the medical marijuana.”

Every new business comes before the Planning and Zoning Commission, he said. Mr. Loconti said council will likely be involved in this as well due to the sensitive nature of medical marijuana and opinions within the community. There are also state guidelines that they must follow, he said.

“Every new business goes before the planning commission, but because it is what it is, I believe council would be involved,” Mr. Loconti said.

Mayor Holbert plans to introduce an ordinance at the Aug. 4 council meeting to permit medical marijuana dispensaries in the village and prohibit cultivators and processors due to a lack of space. The ordinance is modeled after legislation in Garfield Heights.

The agenda for the committee of the whole meeting next week has not yet been finalized. So far, three people are scheduled to present information to council about medical marijuana dispensaries. This includes Director of Medical Marijuana Operations for the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy Sharon Maerten-Moore and Zachary Melvin, a scientist at North Coast Laboratories. This Streetsboro lab is a testing facility for cannabis and hemp. A representative from Lakewood may also come to discuss the impact of a medical marijuana dispensary on their city. Council President Nakeshia Nickerson said she invited an official from a local prosecutor’s office.

The Legislation Committee met on Monday, which is chaired by Ms. Nickerson. Committee members did not decide yet if they will also hear from the business owners who have expressed interest in bringing their dispensary to Woodmere or if there will be time for public comments. There will be two public comment sections at the council meeting next week. The three businesses that have expressed interest in coming to Woodmere are Aerodyne Environmental, Firelands Scientific and Buckeye Relief.

Mayor Holbert said that he is in support of gathering more information.

“We have the responsibility of doing what’s in the best interest of the village,” he said. “We will look at what we can do to provide a service. The tax revenue that could be generated could help our community. If you sit and determine if there’s a community benefit to this or make a community benefit agreement with the business owners so it’s palatable for both of us, it’s incumbent upon the village to have that conversation.”

The committee of the whole meeting will be Aug. 4 at 6 p.m. and the council meeting will follow at 7 p.m. at Village Hall, 27899 Chagrin Blvd. It is undetermined if there will be a virtual option to attend the meeting.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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