Thursday, July 30, 2020

Wayne OK's sale of recreational marijuana in city

The second and final reading of the recreational marijuana ordinance in Wayne was approved by a 5-2 vote of the city council members last week.
Facilities in the city can now legally sell marijuana for recreational use. Medical marijuana facilities have been open in Wayne for some time.
The approval did not come without some discussion and opposition by Council member Kelly Skiff who suggested that the lack of input from the public on the issue was a basis to postpone the vote until the council could again meet face-to-face in chambers rather than the virtual meetings that have been taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We're not hearing from anybody, for or against. This is an injustice to the residents of the city,” Skiff said. “We have not heard enough from the public.”
Mayor John Rhaesa strongly disagreed with Skiff and said that a recent issue with the planning commission brought multiple comments and “people heard and responded.” He said that the issue was on various Facebook and social media pages and “this is not fair to the business owners.”

Rhaesa said that seniors in the community could be watching the meeting being live streamed on their television sets “right now.” He said there are more opportunities to communicate with the public than ever before.
“We have 23 people tonight,” he said referring to the Zoom video participants. “That's about what we'd have at a regular meeting.”
Skiff, however, noted that the city had no idea who those 23 people were and that this was not an issue crucial or essential to the operation of the city.
“This is a controversial issue whether you are for or against it,” she said. “The fact is we haven't heard anything for or against is a problem.” 
Rhaesa called the question demanding a vote on Skiff's motion to postpone the question which was only supported by council members Jeremiah Webster, Phillip Wagner and Skiff.
Owners and operators of marijuana dispensaries in the city joined the meeting and commented that currently users of the product are driving through Wayne to other nearby facilities where it is legal to purchase recreational marijuana.
One owner, Paul Russo, said he has had 300 people ask about recreational product and then go spend money in other cities.  “We need to erase the stigma that marijuana is bad-marijuana is good for people,” he said. “People live in Wayne, they want to spend their dollars in Wayne.”
An opponent of the recreational sales, Kim White Jenkins told the council she felt it was risking branding the city as recreational marijuana friendly. She said the city would receive no taxes until the state had collected the first $20 million in tax revenue on marijuana sales and suggested the council spend as much time recruiting other small businesses to the city as they had on the marijuana issue.
Council members approved the second reading of the new ordinance with Skiff and Webster casting the only no votes.