Thursday afternoon the mayor and board of commissioners met with other city officials to discuss a proposed medical marijuana ordinance that will come to a vote Monday evening at the City Commission meeting. The proposed ordinance was developed over several months by Ardmore Development Services Director Jessica Scott along with City Attorney David Davis. Thursday’s meeting allowed potential concerns to be addressed and corrected before going to a vote.
“I think what we have now is about as good as what we can put together under the circumstances, and those circumstances are that we’re really aiming at a moving target,” said Davis who joined the meeting via conference call.
The proposed ordinance will allow the City of Ardmore to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and allow the city to prosecute violators in municipal court. Without any ordinance on the books, any violations occurring would fall back to the Oklahoma State Department of Health or the District Attorney.
One detail covered in the proposed ordinance limits the locations where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate. These will be permitted only in zones marked specifically for commercial sales. They cannot operate in residential or mixed use zones of the city. They will also not be able to operate in the city’s “fire district,” which basically refers to the downtown area where buildings are much closer together and fire fighting can be an issue.
One issue the city was concerned with was not overstepping their authority by being overly restrictive.
“The criteria that I looked at in this ordinance was that if Ardmore went out on the periphery of what’s printed under 788 or tried to exceed the provisions of 788, then Ardmore would probably become a lightning rod for litigation,” said Davis.
“The biggest thing to remember about this ordinance is the difference between a state statute and 788 because a state statute allows Ardmore to become more restrictive,” said Scott. “This is very different because the people voted. When they voted, it became a constitutional right, and we cannot limit a constitutional right. We can only go so far as what the bill says.”
Once the meeting was complete, Scott summarized everything put into the new ordinance.
“State Question 788 and the Oklahoma State Department of Health have made the rules,” Scott said. “We put these rules into an ordinance. Now we can make sure that our citizens are safe, our businesses are safe and people still get to do what they want to do.”