The threat of a lawsuit prompted members of the Grove City Council to begrudgingly approve to amend the city’s medical marijuana ordinance.
After more than an hour and half public discussion, and almost an hour in executive session, the council came back and voted 4-1 on Wednesday, Jan. 2, to amend the city’s ordinance.
Councilman Marty Dyer cast the opposing vote.
The amended ordinance, approved during the special session, basically strips away all of the provisions the council approved in September.
Gone are the restrictions of setting up a dispensary within 1,000 feet of a church or a preschool or daycare.
The amended ordinance allows for medical marijuana dispensaries within all commercial districts, medical marijuana growers within all agricultural and industrial zoned districts, medical marijuana processors within industrial zoned districts, remove hours of operations for dispensaries, and add smoking marijuana to the OK Smoking In Public Places and Indoor Workplace Act.
“I am not happy,” said Don Nielson, councilman after the meeting.
Nielson’s sentiment was echoed by all the council, City Attorney Darren Cook, City Manager Bill Keefer and Assistant City Manager Debbie Bottoroff.
“It’s a no win situation,” Keefer said.
Gary Bates and Brad Berry both spoke on passing the ordinance. Berry cited the medical benefits and questioned why the churches were opposed to a plant that God made.
Prior to executive session, Representatives Jon Echols, (R-Oklahoma City) House Majority Floor Leader, Josh West, (R-Grove) Deputy Majority Leader and Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee) addressed the council and about 25 residents about the ramifications of State Question 788.
Echols said he expects a bill to be filed regarding the church distance of 1,000 feet during the next session.
“I do think that initiative is going to come up in the next Legislative Session,” Echols said. “It may not be approved, but I think it will come up.”
Other initiatives he expects to come before the legislature will deal with how much authority cities and counties will have.
Issues were raised about the medical qualifications of the bill during the meeting by Councilman Ivan Devitt.
There are other conflicts of interest such as growing the product and then testing your own product, and bankruptcy issues, Echols said the legislature will need to address in the coming session.
The measure legalized medical marijuana passed statewide, but Delaware County voters opposed the proposition 4,724 to 4,628 votes.
In a previous meeting Cook advised the council to amend the ordinance saying there was a threat of lawsuits against the city and each council member due to the ordinance being in violation of state law.
Reverends Robert Carter and Jim Paslay, pastors of Trinity Baptist Church and First Baptist Church, respectively, sought to have the council wait on amending the ordinance after the Legislation session.
“We are here today because of threatened lawsuits,” Paslay said. “Let’s wait."