MASON, Ohio -- City Council members voted unanimously Monday night to place a 180-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivators and processors opening in city limits.
For nearly an hour, anti-marijuana advocates such as self-identified former heroin user Sarah Moore flocked to the podium to make their case against the substance. Moore, who works for Teen Challenge Cincinnati, described marijuana as a gateway drug that can lead to heavier substance abuse.
"We cannot afford to be confused about this issue," she said. "I can say with every bit of certainty that 100 percent of the students at our facility began their drug use with marijuana."
Although medical marijuana technically became legal in Ohio Sept. 8, 2015, the state will not complete the law's rollout until Sept. 8, 2018, by which time the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program will have finalized its recommendations, regulatory policy and more.
Patients with one of 26 qualifying conditions will then be able to register online for a $50 medicine marijuana card, and doctors who undergo special training will be able to recommend it. Smoking cannabis will remain illegal; patients who qualify for a prescription will instead take it through oils, patches and edibles.
No pro-marijuana advocates spoke at Monday night's meeting. The City of Mason intends to look into more permanent ways of keeping the drug out of the community, council members said.
To Sarah Moore, that's good news.
"I'm excited to see the leaders of Mason come together and make a decision to respect and honor the citizens and their wishes," she said.