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Athens City Council meets Sept. 18, 2023, at the Athens Municipal Court on Washington Street.

Athens Planning Commission discusses zoning rules for cannabis, tobacco retailers

The Athens Planning Commission met Wednesday to discuss zoning for the use and sale of cannabis and tobacco within the city. 

Ohio Issue 2 passed Nov. 7, 2023, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 or older, according to a previous Post report. Athens City Council has been working to make ordinances around the sale and use of marijuana since then.  

City planner Meghan Jennings presented updated zoning language, including more restrictions on tobacco and vapor retailers.

Jennings said the original language included restricting the number of licensed cannabis retailers per zone; a minimum distance retailers must maintain from libraries, schools and parks, and a minimum distance between cannabis retailers. 

The updated language limits the sale of tobacco and vapor products to at least 500 ft away from schools, parks, playgrounds and libraries.

The commission also discussed adding a limit to the number of tobacco licenses allowed in the city but decided against it to update both tobacco and cannabis zoning at once. 

Service-Safety Director Andy Stone said Athens will get recreational marijuana sooner than the new zoning goes into effect. 

“June will be when [the state] issues [recreational marijuana] licenses, and those licenses will only be to existing medical cannabis dispensaries,“ Stone said. "We have two in Athens. What we should expect to see before we get this passed is those two medical dispensaries getting their recreational license.”

Stone proposed an amendment to the zoning code so the 500-foot distance between cannabis retailers also applies to tobacco retailers. This amendment and the updated language passed.

The new zoning will grandfather in previously existing licensed tobacco retailers. This allows retailers to continue sales within 500 feet of another retailer if they currently do so. However, incoming tobacco or cannabis retailers must comply with the distance requirement. 


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