Combined council meeting discusses future for medical marijuana

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Caitlin Taylor
The Mason Times

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At the joint council meeting on Feb. 10, the Mason planning commission and City Council determined that an ordinance, rather than a moratorium renewal, will be written for the upcoming 2014 medical marijuana moratorium expiration.

The 180-day moratorium was passed in November 2014 and is up for review. It is one of several moratoriums passed since 2010 regarding the medicinal uses for marijuana. For that reason, it was a nearly unanimous decision to take action on the upcoming deadline, for the planning commission and council members did not want to extend the motion yet again.

“One thing I don’t want to hear outside of this room or even inside of this room is that we’ve been kicking the can for two years, because that’s not true,” said Ed Resser, planning commission chair. “We have had laws that have changed. It’s been a moving target, and we’ve had people who have put a lot of hours into working on this.”

Originally, the moratorium was passed as an emergency response, nipping the possibility of opening marijuana dispensaries in Mason. Even still, this is something planning and council agree upon; a dispensary in downtown Mason may not be what is in the best interest for the community.

“I think a lot of it depends on the quantity of marijuana,” said Thomas M. Hitch, city attorney. “I think someone in possession of one marijuana cigarette or a marijuana cookie or something like that – that’s one thing. It’s probably not going to be prosecuted vigorously. The larger quantities of marijuana in someone’s possession give you a greater likelihood that there will be prosecutions.”

Several other factors including fires, proximity to children and criminal activity as it applies to drug cartels and dispenser controls are among the areas of discussion for writing the ordinance. Additionally, as medical marijuana is not federally recognized, payments at dispensaries would be made in cash. Planning and council worry about the regulation and circulation of money in Mason.

“Facilities to grow are my concern,” said Councilman Leon Clark. “I’m wondering if we should at least look at ordinances for where we would want grow operations to be.”

Despite the possible constraints, planning and council are still tempted to push forward with the medical marijuana ordinance; it is an issue that has been put off for several years, according to chamber. As a possible solution, Clark proposed designating some of Mason’s agricultural land as a growing area.

“Even if we put in an ordinance that required growers to register (it would help) so that we would know where they are,” he said. “Then if we choose we can follow-up to see if they are indeed dealing with just five patients not 105 patients – otherwise, we just don’t have a clue.”

The debate is scheduled to be revisited again in May, according to Resser.

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