Akron City Unanimously Lifts Moratorium

It is an exciting time for a once roaring city, now troubled by economic growth and the heroin crisis. Akron City council deliberations yesterday (5/1/2017), were a victory for Medical Marijuana overturning the moratorium. In September, 2016 the city implemented a moratorium on medical marijuana moving forth, until the council had a chance to review HB523, and regulations. The city also requested feedback from residents. However, council members had concerns, making statements such as Cleveland.com reported, “Ohio Legislature legalized medical marijuana this summer, but has yet to issue rules and regulations regarding licensing and physician recommendations,” Horrigan said in a news release. “I introduced a one-year moratorium on the cultivation, processing or sale of medical marijuana in Akron in order to thoughtfully and diligently study the effect of the new law on our neighborhoods and determine the best path forward. This moratorium does not affect the ability of patients to legally use medical marijuana in Akron with a physician recommendation.”

 45861651.jpgYesterday that order was lifted, unanimously.  Councilman Jeff Fusco says there’s plenty of credit to go around for the law’s passage.

“You gotta hand it to Mayor Horrigan and his administration, staff, the planning department, there’s public safety forces, the police department. We’ve had practically every department here in the city of Akron weigh in on this particular piece. And so it’s been well thought out, it’s been many, many months of research, discussion and trying to find out best practices.”


However, this did not come easy, as many individuals voiced why this is imperative.  

“I’m going to smoke it anyway,” said Joe Fugo, who attended the afternoon public hearing at City Hall but did not stand up to speak.

Fugo said he’s suffered from post-traumatic stress since returning from service in Vietnam. On April 14, 2011 (he  remembers the day vividly), he stopped taking the 22 daily pills prescribed by doctors at a Veterans Affairs hospital. Instead, he found someone to sell him weed. He’s been smoking ever since. “This bud’s for me,” Fugo said he supports medical marijuana even though he can’t get it. The VA, an arm of the federal government, has no doctor who will prescribe a drug considered illegal under federal law.

Leah Levinstein, a Highland Square resident, also attended the public hearing.  “He’s a really cool kid, really creative,” Levinstein said. “However, the medications that we’re giving him now … are causing a lot of side effects that are hard to watch a 7-year-old boy go through.”

Marijuana “might help improve his life,” she said, without endangering his liver (a potential side effect that requires the fishy pill) or making him tired or aggressive, as does an antipsychotic pill taken three times daily to stave off the seizures.

“We would like access to cannabis for our son,” said Levinstein, who’s read promising studies. “We don’t know if it will help him. But we know right now, your lifting the moratorium [on sales and production] is one more step to allowing him to have access to that.”

More pleas, continued including a member of Akron/Kent NORML, Jolie Townsend-Moyer representing the lobbying group, including touching on her personal needs with battling incurable lymphoma cancer, sharing her story of cancer treatments causing additional cancers, which she developed thyroid cancer.

She further spoke about current lobbying efforts, referencing the needs of Akron. Rejuvenation efforts are underway…medical marijuana has a 20% minimum reduction of opiate addiction/overdoses. Poverty rate of Akron is 32% compared to the state average of 20.6%. African Americans being arrested at 8 times compared to whites, for minor possession. Akron can gain a well-known economic status again, and bring back the city in the same as “Goodyear boom days”, Jolie stated. She then includes how difficult mobility can be for patients.

Akron/Kent NORML will continue these efforts for decriminalization of minor procession in Akron with a citizen’s initiative. (Wendy Bee – President, Jolie Moyer-Townsend – Vice President, Samantha Farrell – Communications, Nycole Cromer-Brownfield – Secretary) 

Akron council, displayed care and compassion while keeping in mind the legal aspects required. One thing is for sure this council has their residents in mind more than political agendas.

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