On Tuesday, Duncan City Council passed the new medical marijuana ordinances with a 5-0 vote after finding a compromise between the city and those in the medicinal marijuana industry following months of debate.
The original ordinance was presented at the Feb. 25 Duncan City Council meeting which was tabled after owners of dispensaries and council saw that there was work left to be done on the ordinance. Since then, the medicinal marijuana coalition and City Council met several times before a three-person group representing the medicinal marijuana business owners formed to finish compromising with City of Duncan lawyers. The group of those in the industry included Bryan Alston, Tom Lowry and Scott Rice.
During the Tuesday council meeting that examined the new ordinance — which, according to language, provides legislative intent of adopting Oklahoma Health Department regulations pertaining to commercial medical marijuana establishments and operations providing prohibitive acts and penalties — Alston made final comments before the voting members passed the matter.
“I haven’t talked to any of the other business owners about this final draft because we just received it yesterday (Monday), but I wanted to speak on behalf of my business partner and my employees, my patients and my business CannaWise,” Alston said. “We are deeply grateful to the city council for genuinely listening to our concerns and for hosting three workshops, for calling, texting and showing general concern for our concerns. The final edition as proposed doesn’t completely reflect my views or my perception of what my patients are entitled to under state law. This ordinance and the changes to the existing code are much closer than the ordinance presented for voting in February. I, for the most part, am pleased with the process and comprise we have achieved and am confident that any issues that arise going forward will be met with the same good faith and understanding.”
Councilwoman Patty Wininger agreed with Alston’s comments and said this was a great way for the City of Duncan and business owners to work something out that favors both businesses and the city.
“I do appreciate the three workshops and the business owners coming together and talking with us and we had quite a large group,” Wininger said. “I appreciate councilwoman (Lindsay) Hayes and (Jennifer) Smith for working with the group and I appreciate you coming forward and saying that Brian, because it has been a work in progress and compromise and I do think we can move forward with it and work out if we have any other issues going forward, so I appreciate that and thank you.”
Duncan City Attorney David Hammond said the new ordinance, which was originally around 18 pages long, has been reduced by six or seven pages and discussed some of the specifications that was agreed upon.
“We have had about six hours worth of meetings and taking the business owners’ input, I think this has some very good ideals,” Hammond said. “This ordinance was reduced by about six or seven pages and I think we have it minimized as low as we can go. I think the fees for the application or the permits are reasonable and we totally took out the fee for the applications, but we are mostly dealing with the violations, zoning and the application process and I don’t think we can make it any simpler and I don’t think there are too many items that we can remove … but I think we have compromised as much as we can. I appreciate everyone’s work between council and business owners.”
Councilwoman Wininger questioned Hammond to make sure that if a state statue came down that it will atomically update the Duncan ordinance and he said if any ordinances conflict with state law, it will take priority.
Another lady with ties to the medical marijuana industry asked a question about inspections from the city during the growing phase before the vote. Community Development Director Nate Schacht answered about the plan his department has in place.
“Even with Brian’s facility … he offered for us to go into some of the grow rooms even though we knew that there were some (plants) in ‘twilight’ — our staff, everyone of us, said no we don’t want to run the risk of compromising the product because we understand these are these folks’ livelihood and their investment,” Schacht said. “As long as I’m here and as long as my staff people are here and that mindset continues after we go, I think that is more than a reasonable request to give a few hours notice. Because we are dealing with product that can be light sensitive, can be temperature sensitive and we need to be able to respect that. But on the other side, there may be a situation where it is an absolute emergency like for safety, but again I think we can all work through those instances and we can accommodate those needs.”
Councilwoman Jennifer Smith made the motion to pass it and councilman Nick Fischer seconded the vote. The council voted it in the affirmative with a 5-0 unanimous vote.