WSS board grants license for medical marijuana store
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.