WSS board grants li­cense for med­i­cal mar­i­juana store

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Hunter McFer­rin Staff Writer hm­c­fer­[email protected]

WEST SILOAM SPRINGS, Okla. — The West Siloam Springs Board of Trus­tees unan­i­mously ap­proved a re­quest for an oc­cu­pa­tional li­cense for the city’s first med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary dur­ing their meet­ing on Mon­day night.

In June, Ok­la­homa vot­ers ap­proved le­gal­iz­ing med­i­cal mar­i­juana, ac­cord­ing to an Aug. 16 re­port from the North­west Arkansas Demo­crat Gazette. The Ok­la­homa Med­i­cal Mar­i­juana Au­thor­ity be­gan re­ceiv­ing and pro­cess­ing li­cense ap­pli­ca­tions on Aug. 25, the re­port states.

The ap­pli­cant in Mon­day night’s meet­ing was RZA

En­ter­prises, LLC, who plans to open a med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary called the Re­leaf Cen­ter at 4876 Hwy. 412, the for­mer lo­ca­tion for the Toasted Pub, a bar and restau­rant that has per­ma­nently closed. There were two agenda items re­lat­ing to the topic for the board’s con­sid­er­a­tion, the first was to ap­prove a price for an oc­cu­pa­tional li­cense, while the sec­ond was to grant the oc­cu­pa­tional li­cense.

Prior to the first vote, Waylon Chan­dler, who is in charge of the city’s code en­force­ment, ex­plained to the board that the ap­pli­cant has ful­filled all nec­es­sary re­quire­ments with the state and that the ap­proval of the two items was nec­es­sary to en­sure that reg­u­la­tion at the lo­cal level could take place. De­spite this, the board ini­tially voted 3-2 against ap­prov­ing a price for an oc­cu­pa­tional li­cense and other than per­sonal ob­jec­tions to the idea, gave few rea­sons as to why.

“It amazes me that they call it med­i­cal mar­i­juana, it’s just to soften the blow,” board mem­ber Or­val Wilkin­son said. “To me it’s just plain old mar­i­juana, in other words, pot. Do we want to vote this in on our town? I would say no. Do we want our youth of to­mor­row to grow up to be pot­heads? It’ll be eas­ier to get, we have a chance here to keep it out of our com­mu­nity.”

City At­tor­ney Jot Hart­ley said the city does not have an op­tion and stressed that if the orig­i­nal vote were not over­turned, it could lead city into a law­suit be­cause the ap­pli­cant is in com­pli­ance with state re­quire­ments and lo­cal laws don’t su­per­sede state laws. He fur­ther ex­plained that a sep­a­rate cat­e­gory and li­cens­ing fee of $1,500 was re­cently set for med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries in the city. The reg­u­lar oc­cu­pa­tional li­cense fee for busi­nesses is $75.

If the board stuck to their ini­tial de­ci­sion, it wouldn’t ex­empt them from their re­spon­si­bil­ity to con­sider grant­ing the oc­cu­pa­tional li­cense, but now they would re­ceive the reg­u­lar li­cens­ing fee of $75 in­stead of the $1,500 spe­cial li­cense fee, Hart­ley said. The board re­luc­tantly re­versed their de­ci­sion and unan­i­mously ap­proved the item, sub­ject to the con­di­tion that the li­cens­ing fee be in­creased from $1,500 to $2,500. They then voted to grant the oc­cu­pa­tional li­cense to RZA En­ter­prises, LLC.

Other no­table as­pects of Mon­day’s meet­ing are listed below.

• Unan­i­mously ap­proved the ap­point­ment of Carolyn Buttes to serve as the in­terim town clerk and in­terim mu­nic­i­pal au­thor­ity clerk. Buttes was ap­pointed by West Siloam Springs Mayor Elaine Carr fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Kathy Os­bourn last month, and will hold the po­si­tion un­til mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions are held in April.

• Unan­i­mously ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion that es­tab­lished Feb. 4-6 as the fil­ing dates for prospec­tive board mem­bers want­ing to rep­re­sent Wards 1, 2, 3 and 5, as well as town clerk and town trea­surer. The elec­tion will be held on April 2.

• Unan­i­mously ap­proved a mo­tion to ta­ble a dis­cus­sion re­gard­ing the dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of health in­sur­ance for the fam­i­lies of city em­ploy­ees.

• Unan­i­mously ap­proved a pro­posal to have Chris Kirk, CPA, pro­vide in­creased over­sight in the city’s ac­count­ing pro­ce­dures as well as the be­hav­iors and ac­tiv­i­ties of city em­ploy­ees. He will be as­sisted by Po­lice Chief Larry Bar­nett.

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