Shawnee City Commissioners took a step back from a September decision to impose regulatory fees and fines for marijuana growing facilities for personal medical use; this week they removed the fee and fines from the City Fee Schedule.
The $25 fee and $200 daily fine for noncompliance were both stricken from the City Code, effective immediately.
The resolution is a housekeeping item to stay in line with the board's repeal of rules made in the fall.
All that is being done here is repealing the fee schedule, City Attorney Joe Vorndran said.
In mid-January the Shawnee board of City Commissioners already repealed rules previously enacted in the Fall regarding the passage of medical marijuana in the state.
Repealed items included the removal of the registry requirement of owners of marijuana-growing facilities for personal use — as well as removal of the fee to register; owners of marijuana-growing facilities for personal use will no longer be subject to security provisions; and growing marijuana for personal use without first obtaining a license from the state is no longer be punishable by a $200 daily fine while in violation.
The board had approved the rules in September to establish local rules very similar to the state's in response to the recently passed medical marijuana law.
The decision to strike the previously adopted local regulations apparently was because such rulings have been a cause for problems among municipalities across the state.
Shawnee City Commissioner James Harrod said he believed the courts had determined that cities don't have the authority to make such rules.
Even before the rules were passed locally in the Fall, there was considerable outcry from area residents as commissioners tackled the issue.
Before September's vote
During regular commission meetings, several area residents took the opportunity to share their views about the city's proposed rules.
Norma Sapp encouraged commissioners to consider the costs for ill patients.
“Think about them, please. They have had an expense of going to the doctor and paying the health department to get their card,” she said. “Nobody has asked them to register with their city because they were on pain medication.”
She said the hope is that cannabis can help those patients get off some of those opiates that are dangerous.
Also, she said when a home is registered, and someone goes to a house to inspect it, people are going to talk.
“It's going to put them in danger and they're going to get robbed,” she said.
Local business owner James McLeod said he has already invested thousands of dollars toward a business that would be affected by the proposed rules. He said the proposed new zoning forces him into a standstill due to a 1,000-foot distance requirement.
“If you would consider that, I would sure appreciate it,” he said.
Retired nurse Pamela Street, of Shawnee, said patients should be able to heal on their own terms.
She said, “I want to help all patients of this county and town with my knowledge about the body and the endocannabinoid system — the ability to grow and be empowered with true nutrients from our soil.”
She said she needs her natural form of medicine.
“We can't have anybody else in our homes or our healing options,” she said. “The state of Oklahoma has told me I'm a medical patient (as a card holder) and I have the right treat myself in my home.”
Resident Shawn Cook said, “if you have a problem with medicinal cannabis, you need to educate yourself.”
There are major studies and scientific evidence all over the place that show its medicinal qualities.
“We need to be able to home-grow so we can afford to do this,” he said. “It's the most affordable way; a lot of medications are expensive.”
Though now an Asher resident, Ron Loftis grew up in Shawnee. He said the city needs to figure out a way to allow people to grow medical marijuana outdoors to save on the expense of special lighting, etc.
“People living from paycheck to paycheck can't afford it,” he said.
The process in September
Shawnee City Attorney Joe Vorndran and then-Community Development Director Justin DeBruin worked on the language for the local ordinance, based on the state health department's established emergency rules in the Fall.
In the proposed rules DeBruin said he compared state rules to local zoning codes, choosing several areas he deemed appropriate for facilities based on how they fit within current standards.
Commissioners chose to strike a particular commercial zoning requirement from the proposal.
Mayor Richard Finley moved to adopt the ordinance striking Section 8-515, 8-B, which was a locally added rule (above and beyond what state rules required) stating a permit would not be granted to any applicants where the proposed location would be located within 1,000 feet of any juvenile or adult halfway house, correctional facility or substance abuse rehabilitation or treatment center.
“I don't know that it should be our job to determine where these businesses are located, outside of the parameters of state law,” Finley said.