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Possibility of marijuana businesses in Vandalia sparks heated debate

Posted on Friday, July 19, 2019 at 6:27 pm

By Ben Marshall

VANDALIA­—The Lange building was full of heated discussion after a “Call to Order” during a “Citizens to be Heard” meeting at the Tuesday, July 9 regular meeting of Vandalia’s Board of Aldermen.
Most those who were present were blunt with disapproval at the possibility of medical marijuana, and some of them left the meeting after Nate Kurash a representative of 1913 Holdings, outlined his plan to locate a medical marijuana cultivation and processing plant in Vandalia.
The next motion on the agenda was for distributing liquor licenses in Vandalia, which was discussed and moved on without any issue.
One concern brought to the board was about where a medical marijuana facility would be located. Various locations have been discussed before, yet a set location was not determined by any potential applicant.
During the meeting, it was mentioned by Vandalia City attorney Amy H. Rost that, “Voters of the State of Missouri passed an amendment to our constitution last November. And once this amendment has passed, the city cannot expressly prohibit, or in effect prohibit any of these kinds of facilities in our town.”
She went on to say, “We can regulate them as to the time, the manor, and the place; so we can regulate them as to where they might be, and things like that, but we cannot ban them. It would be against the Missouri Constitution.”
Local resident Clay Hyde responded to this remark, bringing in yet another issue of federal law. He said, “Regardless of what the state does, it still is a schedule-one narcotic federally.”
Another concerned citizen spoke up later and said, “The way I understand the law, what I read about it is that it’s not even legal for these people in Missouri to buy the seed to grow it because of the way they wrote the law.”
Another person said, “Like if they try to buy the seed in Colorado, they can’t transport the seed from Colorado to here in Missouri because that’s a felony.” He added that, “So to put a business in town is committing a felony right off the bat.”
Vandalia City Administrator Darren Berry said of this type of business, “They’re gonna be regulated by the state. They’re gonna have rules to follow.”
There was more discussion about various locations for such facilities and traffic on gravel roads.
Berry added that, “If traffic is our biggest problem, and we have a hundred new jobs in town, we will work on that problem. That would be a good problem to work on.”
Another audience member added to the discussion saying that, “I’m from Colorado. Yes there is good and bad, but we do need businesses here in Vandalia.”
She also mentioned that in the past seven years, “Every time a new business comes in they aren’t treated well by Vandalia. I don’t understand that. I know you don’t want to be a big town. I get that. It’s a beautiful town with good people, but you have to be a little more open to people starting businesses here, because otherwise they leave.”
Vandalia Mayor Ralph Kuda said, “Here is the thing about it. It’s coming whether we want it or not. It is coming within the city, or it’s coming out of the city. If it comes to the city we get revenue. If it doesn’t come to the city we don’t get revenue. It’s gonna be 50 jobs to start with.”
He added that whether the people come from Vandalia or not is not something under the city’s control, but when they’re here, these people are gonna buy gasoline, food, and other things from local merchants.
Other issues brought up, such as where are these businesses going to get their water and utilities?
Berry said that they were choosing to use city water and utilities. He added that water issues mentioned before were currently being tended to.
Additional questions were asked during the meeting about fumes from the marijuana facilities, possible increased crime rates, security issues, and much more with responses from people who said they had heard of reports where there had been no increase in crime, and security issues were not a problem, and that many of these companies were considered an asset to the communities in which they were located.
Companies began to approach the city of Vandalia only recently and many attempts are being made to help everyone stay informed of updates to these issues, which is why the city is holding these public meetings for the people of Vandalia.
More information on this topic can be found online at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website at:
https://health.mo.gov/safety/medical-marijuana/index.php.