OAK HARBOR — Oak Harbor’s village council got stuck in the weed Monday night. For almost three hours, elected officials debated the merit, viability and moral issues surrounding medical marijuana in Oak Harbor.
Some village officials, including councilwoman Jackie Macko, have expressed interest in opening the village to medical marijuana business. But others, such as councilwomen Sue Rahm and Donna Wendt-Elliot, appear against the drug.
“I just care about bettering this community financially,” Macko said during the meeting. “We have a lot of obstacles facing us that could put is in a bad situation.”
Rahm fired back and said Macko needed to adjust her viewpoint.
“We’re not looking at the whole picture,” Rahm said. “I think we need to take the moral basis into consideration.”
Mayor Joe Helle tried to corral the argument.
“It’s not our job to represent our own morals,” Helle said. “We ought to represent the people and what they feel is best.”
Oak Harbor’s ongoing medical marijuana debate dates back to September 2016 when the state approved a law allowing pre-approved patients to ingest medical marijuana in a non-smoking form to treat certain health conditions.
Last fall, village council approved a medical marijuana moratorium, or a temporary ban, which effectively imposed a 12-month prohibition on the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana.
Council resumed its marijuana debate Monday following a presentation from Joseph Wright, a representative from Trillium Cannabis. The company has expressed interest in opening a medical marijuana cultivation site in Oak Harbor.
Employing at least 25 people, the 100,000-square-foot cultivation plant would cost approximately $7 million in company or investor funds. The site would be used to grow and possibly process medical marijuana for sale at dispensaries across the state.
There is no guarantee Trillium Cannabis can deliver on its promise. The company must apply for a state medical marijuana cultivation license, and there aren’t many available. The deadline to apply is June 30, and applicants must select, and have control of, a land parcel to build the cultivation plant.
Wright said Trillium Cannabis has a site picked out, located in the northwest portion of the village at the end of Lake Street. The site meets all state laws and zoning requirements, such as its distance from schools or libraries, and is “the perfect location to establish this facility,” Wright said.
“Our goal here is to be partners with Oak Harbor,” Wright said, as he addressed village council. “Everything we do is designed to create a connection between our employees and our community.”
For Trillium officials to apply for a state license, they must have assurances that Oak Harbor will remove its temporary medical marijuana ban.
But village officials couldn’t come to an agreement Monday and scheduled a special meeting, set for 6 p.m. next Monday, to further discuss the issue.