LOGAN — As the saga of the medical marijuana dispensary has played out over the past several months, it finally came to an end Tuesday night as five Logan City Council members voted in favor of overriding the mayor’s veto of Ordinance 24.
Those voting in favor of the override include Shaun North, Jesse Russell, Jim Robinson, Shirley Chapman and Ed Tucker. In hopes that someone would agree with their no votes, Dave Driscoll and Judie Henniger held strong in their convictions —once again voting no.
While Logan City Mayor Greg Fraunfelter tried his best to deter the medical marijuana dispensary from opening, he failed to convince the majority of City Council.
For CannAscend this is victory under their belts as was evident by the round of applause when the mayor’s veto was overridden.
“CannAscend is incredibly thankful and appreciative for the leadership of the Logan City Council who spent the last five months asking questions, listening, and having an in-depth conversation about medical marijuana,” stated Ian James, CannAscend Head of Corporate Development.
“In the end, the Logan City Council took the appropriate steps to repeal the medical marijuana ban, and give Hocking County patients the ability to get the medical marijuana they need and deserve, and do so closer to home. That didn’t happen overnight — it only happened when people of good will worked for the betterment of the community,” he continued.
According to James, CannAscend hired eight local staff members, who are now completing their training prior to the opening of the dispensary. He noted CannAscend is continuing its work with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to complete its pre-inspection process, and then getting on the Board of Pharmacy’s schedule for the final inspection.
“The Board is working incredibly hard to get through all the inspections of dispensaries and the control processes across the state,” James told The Logan Daily News. “We will announce the opening of the dispensary at a later date. We look forward to holding a ribbon-cutting soon and serving the patients in the region immediately after that.”
Altogether, CannAscend has four dispensaries throughout Ohio — Logan, Dayton, Marietta, and Monroe.
When asked how the decision of Council will benefit the City of Logan, James responded, “Patients in and around Hocking County need and deserve the compassionate care that medical marijuana provides. Being able to offer patients clean, safe and lab-tested medical marijuana in compliance with state law, has already meant the cleaning-up and redevelopment of an old eyesore at the edge of Downtown, the creation of eight new jobs for residents in the area, and the investment of over $1.25 million in the City. CannAscend looks to be a dedicated partner with the City and region and to improve the quality of life for our neighbors.”
James told The Logan Daily News that he grew up in Athens and came to understand the importance of advocacy and coalition building.
“I took that knowledge to the Statehouse where I worked alongside Ohio’s elected leaders, and then onto my work alongside Merv Griffin, where I was his corporate executive in charge of community and governmental relations,” James commented.
“Being home in the Hocking Valley these last several months, I had the privilege of working alongside a doggedly determined team who followed a focused strategy of speaking-out for patients to educate decision makers and promote voter advocacy,” he added.
By remaining vigilant in their quest, speaking the truth, and availing themselves to the community, James said the team was able to work with City Council, repeal the City’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance, and override the Mayor’s veto.
“This historic victory came from steadfast grit, which provided the surest of footing for each meeting, and council/public interaction,” James continued. “I am proud of our team, and I am more proud of Logan than ever before, for the desire to work together to bring about the change that will help others live a better quality of life.
“These last five or so months are a testament to the fact that even when people disagree, but are willing to work together without being disagreeable, they can do great things. But all of that, every single bit of it, requires that you are present and willing to speak out for that which you hold to be valid and essential, even when doing so, makes your voice shake,” he commented.
“Because this entire movement — from reforming marijuana laws, re-developing property to serve patients, hiring people across the region and state, working with law enforcement and regulators to ensure compliance with the law, proves that you can’t change the future and improve lives if you stand still and stay silent. My family, friends associates and even my adversaries, have never accused me of standing still and remaining silent. And for that, I am grateful,” James concluded.
While both sides of the spectrum was covered by those in favor and against the dispensary, one thing for certain — Mayor Fraunfelter, City Service Director Bruce Walker, and council members Driscoll and Henniger gave it their best shot to stop Strawberry Fields from opening.
However, the saga has ended and the fat lady sang loud and clear Tuesday night and like it or not — Strawberry Fields is here — forever.