By Ben Marshall
VANDALIA—Sensing a lot of interest in the possibility of medical marijuana businesses opening in Vandalia, the City Council held another public meeting to hear and consider area citizens comments.
This meeting was held at Sacred Heart Church in Vandalia at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17, to allow citizens of Vandalia to be heard.
When people signed they let the council know if they wanted to address the council. Those that did, were given about three minutes each.Larry Parrish said it was important to educate the public on the issue of medical marijuana. He said he thought that this subject has come upon the community with little notice.
They agreed, saying they, too, were taken by surprise.
They noted that Vandalia City Hall was approached by two companies that showed interest opening businesses here.
Vandalia Mayor Ralph Kuda said, “At this stage we don’t know if we are getting anyone coming to Vandalia at all.”
Vandalia City Administrator Darren Berry had been interviewed on this topic earlier. He said the laws on this issue could be located at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website: health.mo.gov/safety/medical-marijuana/index.php.
This website provides a great deal of information on laws and regulations, as well as concerns from the community.
Another speaker asked, “I would like to know how much revenue it’s going to produce, and how much of it is going stay to the citizens of Vandalia?”
Kuda answered, saying many factors are involved, including the size of the building a company needs, how many people it will employ, and how much it will produce.
At this stage, he noted, “we don’t have any idea of exactly what they are going to do.”
He added that, “As soon as we get this information we’re going try to get it out to the people. And we may have to have several meetings just to explain everything.”
Another citizen was concerned mainly with where such an operation would be located.
She was concerned it might be placed too close to residential homes or churches.
In last week’s issue, City Attorney Amy H. Rost was quoted as saying that, “We can regulate them as to the time, the manner, and the place.”
Charles Overton said that Vandalia has not been favorable to anything progressive that may want to come to this town. He said that in order to draw people here, and in order for the city to progress, the community needs to be open to consider new things. He also said that if a new business were to have an odor, people might remember how much of an odor the local brick factory has had, but look what it has provided for the this town.
Overton also noted that Vandalia needs to consider any opportunity that will bring jobs, businesses, and people to into the area, rather than letting those opportunities simply slip away.
Vandalia pharmacist Joe Salois said he wanted to provide some education on the issue of medical marijuana. He noted the long history of using pharmaceutical plants.
He mentioned that whether a plant is or is not grown in an area has nothing to do with that plant being a good or bad thing.
“Medical marijuana is not necessarily the panicia that people say it is.” There are very specific things that medical marijuana is good for. But people hope its good for myriad other things, and it is not.
Salois mentioned that many people who voted to pass the issue of medical marijuana in Missouri likely were people that are hoping for this to lead to them legally doing what they are already doing.
He asked if people would object if a grape grower wanted to come to this community to put in 20 acres of grapes? Nobody tends to put in 20 acres of grapes unless they are planning to make wine with them. Alcohol is just as much of an aversion to society as marijuana, and that is often the stigma of a thing that people are reacting to.
Salois added that he remains neutral to any issue with marijuana or alcohol.
Salois concluded, saying that if people want to know more about medicinal marijuana talk to medicinal people.
“If you want to consider agricultural hemp you should talk to the growers. However, don’t just make assumptions, but rather get educated properly to the issues at hand.