Discussion growing as Craig City Council works on recreational marijuana law | CraigDailyPress.com

Discussion growing as Craig City Council works on recreational marijuana law

New Craig City Council members Brian MacKenzie and Paul James receive their name placards Tuesday, April 23 at Council Chambers.
Clay Thorp

There may be a new marijuana ordinance on the ballot for municipal voters in November, if Craig’s City Council can get the law written before August.

City Attorney Sherman Romney told council Tuesday he wanted some guidance after at least one council member and other residents requested they begin work toward legalizing recreational marijuana in Craig.

“We could put together the entire ordinance and ask voters to approve the entire ordinance,” Romney said. “…another is, you could just ask the basic question — ‘should retail marijuana business be allowed in the city of Craig?’”

Romney said the latter would require additional ordinances to carry out voters wishers should they answer ‘yes’ to that question in order to effectively regulate potential marijuana-related stores, grow operations, manufacturing facilities, and testing labs. He said either option should probably include additional taxation on marijuana.

“It would be in the city’s best interest to also impose additional taxes on marijuana if it is approved by voters,” Romney said.

The Craig city charter requires at least two public readings of any ordinance before it is placed on the ballot, meaning council will need to use its workshop process quickly to hash out a myriad of details by August if it is to be on the November ballot.

Romney said the city writing its own marijuana ordinance is better than letting special interests do it.

“The city is in a better position if we draft the ordinance ourselves as opposed to the marijuana-related businesses,” Romney said.

Newly-elected Councilman Paul James was perhaps the first to suggest the city not waste time simply asking voters if they want recreational marijuana in Craig, but presenting them with a detailed ordinance to vote on.

“I think people should know what they are voting on,” James said Tuesday. “I think we should have an ordinance right out of the gate.”

Many on council seemed amenable to the idea of beginning the process of writing their own marijuana ordinance.

“I believe the city is one of the best, if not the best, to write the ordinance,” said Mayor Jarrod Ogden.

Councilman Chris Nichols also gave his thumbs up.

“I do not have a problem putting this on the ballot and letting everyone decide it,” Nichols said. “Prohibition doesn’t always work… so I’ll let you decide.”

Councilman Tony Bohrer was the only dissenting voice Tuesday night.

“I’ll probably be the only no vote,” Bohrer said.

But, Bohrer also wants to help write the ordinance in a way that will be effective and good for Craig. He said community input will be crucial during the workshop process so any questionable details about Craig’s new marijuana ordinance will be hashed out and understood before it goes to council for a vote.

“There’s so much to it. It’s not just laws,” Bohrer said. “There’s a lot of community input needed and that, I think, is just healthy.”

James made the motion to council to begin writing the ordinance and to organize a city workshop. City Council passed the motion with Bohrer being the lone dissenting vote.

The city’s first marijuana ordinance workshop is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. June 25 at City Hall.

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