Medina opts to allow marijuana dispensaries

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 October 2021 at 2:42 pm

MEDINA – The Village Board isn’t opting out of allowing legal dispensaries for marijuana, a vote that means the village will be opting in.

The board voted 4-1 on Monday evening to take no action on opting out. Medina officials think they are the first municipality in the county that will allow the legal dispensaries.

Mayor Mike Sidari said it may not come to fruition for 12 to 18 months as the village awaits guidelines and regulations from the state, and to see if a business can work through the permitting process from the state.

Sidari said marijuana was decriminalized by the state. He compared it to easing off the Prohibition laws about a century ago.

“I liken this to back in Prohibition time,” Sidari said. “They probably had the same exact meetings that we’re talking about with the marijuana. With marijuana I have a feeling it’s here and now.”

During a public hearing on Sept. 26, several speakers urged the village to not oppose legal dispensaries. Those speakers said they would have access to a safe, regulated product, and the village would stand to gain tax revenue.

Medina will get a 3 percent tax for every dollar spent at the dispensary, part of an overall 13-percent excise tax on marijuana.

“We don’t know what the dollar amount will be,” said Tim Elliott, a trustee on the board. “But we know it will be better than zero.”

The village has struggled in recent years to keep taxes from rising, partly because it’s revenue from the local sales tax has been frozen by the county since 1996. The state also hasn’t increased the share to the village in AIM funding.

“This is a guarantee of tax revenue, we just don’t know the amount,” Elliott said. “But we can definitely use those funds.”

The Village Planning Board is expected to weigh in on the matter, whether the dispensaries should be limited to certain locations in the village.

Elliott said he doesn’t want to see the dispensaries banned from the downtown.

“I have no problem with them being on Main Street,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for someone to open a business. I don’t see why they should be secluded. It will bring people into town and they will spend money at other businesses.”

Marguerite Sherman, a trustee on the board, cast the lone vote against taking no action. Sherman said there are currently too many unanswered questions about the legal dispensaries, especially with no regulations yet from the state.

Medina also set a public hearing for 7:05 p.m. on Nov. 22 on whether to allow on-site marijuana use at smoking lounges in the village.