RAVENNA, Ohio - Ravenna City council on Monday voted unanimously to establish licensing fees for companies wishing to dispense medical marijuana within its city limits.
A new ordinance establishes a $25,000 annual licensing fee and would require a percentage of the profits after sales go beyond $1.25 million.
Councilman Bruce Ribelin welcomes medical marijuana dispensaries in Ravenna and says considerable thought had been given to the ordinance.
"We had meetings where we put together an ordinance for this. We revised the ordinance. We then tweaked the ordinance again and we feel that we can still tweak the ordinance after we get a look-see as to how this works out for us," said Ribelin.
"We looked at other communities. Some of them were lower. We saw some as high as 50-thousand dollars. We kind of settled in the middle and said 25-thousand dollars," he added.
The licensing fee mirrors that of Lakewood, but is considerably higher than communities like Canton, where the licensing and renewal fee is $5,000.
Licensing fees for medical marijuana dispensaries in Akron and South Euclid have been set at $2,500 a year.
In Alliance, a licensing renewal fee of $5,000 is good for two years.
At least two applications have already been made with the state for dispensaries in Ravenna.
The State of Ohio expects to have a fully operational medical marijuana cultivation and distribution system in place by September.
The state has specific requirements for its approved growers and dispensaries but local governments can use zoning powers to further limit where the facilities are located and can create rules and regulations similar to those required by the state.
Some communities, including New Philadelphia, ban growers and dispensaries from within their borders.
Ribelin does not believe the $25,000 fee in Ravenna will keep dispensaries away.
"We really discussed that a lot. Some people felt it would be prohibitive. Not so much people on council, but there were people in the community, a couple of people thought it would be. I don't think 25-thousand dollars is going to be prohibitive in a business where I expect them to make a lot of money, especially if we had the only dispensary in Portage County," said Ribelin.
He also believes the cost is justified because city resources, including police patrols, might have to increase once the dispensaries are open.
The fees are also in addition to already high fees from the state which include a $70,000 licensing and operating fee every two years.
Ribelin says if it does become an issue, the ordinance can always be reconsidered.
"We can always tweak the ordinance can't we? That's the nice thing about being a legislator."