Summit County Council is considering an ordinance that would regulate county employees' use of medical marijuana.
The council's personnel committee passed the ordinance at a meeting Monday night, with the full council expected to vote on the measure at next Monday’s council meeting.
Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016, but the legislature left it up to employers to determine if they’d allow employees to use it, according to the Ohio Revised Code.
Under Summit County’s proposed ordinance, county employees would be allowed to use medical marijuana, but they couldn’t use or be under the influence of it while on the job. They also couldn’t have medical marijuana or paraphernalia on county property or in a county vehicle.
County employees who use medical marijuana would have to report it to the county executive’s designee and provide evidence of being registered with the state patient registry, a recommendation from a medical doctor certified to recommend its use and evidence of it being obtained from a licensed marijuana dispensary.
Under the ordinance, any employee testing positive for medical marijuana after an accident would be ineligible for workers’ compensation.
Additionally, county employees who perform “safety sensitive duties” — including those who have commercial driver's licenses and those who carry firearms for their jobs — would not be able to use medical marijuana.
Jason Dodson, chief of staff for Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro, called the proposed ordinance “a reasonable middle ground” for “a relatively sticky issue.”
“It still allows them to use the marijuana in their private, personal time but does pretty much prohibit the employee from using or possessing medical marijuana while they are on the job for the county,” he said.
Dodson said he expected the ordinance to be tweaked in the next year or two if it’s passed as the county learns through “practical experience.”
"This is what we believe is a very reasonable approach," added at-large council member and personnel committee chair Elizabeth Walters, who said the council and the administration have been working on the issue since August.
In other action Monday, the council’s finance committee approved referring the county's $546.7 million budget for its second reading at next Monday’s council meeting. The council will hear budget presentations in upcoming meetings and vote on the budget at its final meeting this year.
According to the county executive's website, the county is looking at a 2019 operating budget of $546.7 million, which is 1.7 percent higher than the 2018 adjusted budget of $537.7 million. The 2018 operating budget as originally passed in late 2017 totaled nearly $529.2 million.
At its meeting next Monday, the council will vote on measures that would:
• Authorize the county executive to execute a cooperative agreement involving the development of the Firestone Business Park in Akron on the former Firestone campus. The agreement is with the city of Akron and others; the county is buying land in the park to put up a large garage and offices for its department of sanitary services.
• Renew a lease with Summit Artspace for space at the Akron Center Building on East Market Street for a five-year term at $1 a year. The lease agreement would be expanded to include the entire Akron Center Building.
• Award $200,000 to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to purchase food for distribution to food pantries throughout Summit County from Dec. 1 through Sept. 30, 2019. Last fiscal year, the food bank processed 382,665 pounds of food, serving an average of 5,600 households per month, said Phil Montgomery with the county's Department of Job and Family Services.
• Award $165,428 to the Thrasher Group to design the reconstruction of the intersection of Cleveland-Massillon Road at Ridgewood Road in Copley Township. The work would include the addition of a southbound right-turn lane from Cleveland-Massillon Road onto westbound Ridgewood Road and the addition of an eastbound left-turn lane from Ridgewood Road onto northbound Cleveland-Massillon Road.
Beacon Journal reporter Emily Mills can be reached at 330-996-3334, firstname.lastname@example.org and @EmilyMills818.