In or out? Massillon weighing limits on recreational marijuana sales in the city

MASSILLON – City Council continues to mull a proposal that opens the door for recreational marijuana businesses in the municipality.

With the guidance of Councilwoman Jill Creamer, D-Ward 4, members agreed to amend legislation to limit the number of city operators to two, as well as striking down the city's historic district as a non-use area.

Cannabis concern: Massillon sets public hearing to hear residents' voices on recreational marijuana

"If we're going to go down this path (of permitting marijuana businesses in Massillon), I think we need to (allow it) in the historic district," Creamer said during Monday's work session.

Creamer, who calls having marijuana dispensaries in Massillon a bad idea, chairs council's Community Development Committee, which the legislation falls under.

Jill Creamer
Jill Creamer

Development Director Ted Herncane said most of the historic district would be excluded, anyway, due to Duncan Plaza, a city park, and a preschool being within the region. Marijuana shops are required by state law to be at least 500 feet away from parks, schools and churches.

Massillon's historic district runs from about Tremont Avenue SE north to North Avenue NE and over to First Street NW to Third Street NE.

Some council members oppose marijuana businesses in Massillon

In addition to Creamer, City Council members Sarita Cunningham, R-at large, and Mark Lombardi, R-Ward 1, said they are leaning against allowing marijuana shops in Massillon.

"I just don't think Massillon needs this," said Lombardi. "I have not heard any positive comments (from residents)."

Members Holly Bryan-Huth, D-at large; Julie Harwig-Smith, R-Ward 5, and Ed Lewis IV, R-at large, seemed to favor the businesses coming into the city.

Ed Lewis IV
Ed Lewis IV

"I have trouble with understanding why liquor stores (and bars) are OK, but this is not," Lewis said.

Last year, voters in Ohio approved an initiative to regulate and legalize recreational marijuana ― Issue 2, which allows adults 21 and older to possess, grow and use it for recreational purposes.

Massillon voters approved the state legalization with 57% of the vote.

Two city proposals are on the table related to marijuana. One is to authorize the recreational aspect as an official use in Massillon — falling in line with the state issue — while the other sets fees and assigns areas where marijuana businesses can open.

On July 1, City Council gave first reading to both proposals. Second reading of the legislation is slated for next week, including the amendments proposed by Creamer.

North Canton voted July 1 to prohibit the businesses.

A public hearing has been set for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12 in the council chamber at City Hall, 2 James Duncan Plaza SE.

Reach Steven at steven.grazier@indeonline.com. On X: @sgrazierINDE

This article originally appeared on The Independent: Massillon City Council continues talks on recreational marijuana shops