PERRY — The City Council conducted a meeting Thursday evening to discuss several topics, including the emergency authorization of city funds for water main repairs.
But the main topic many residents showed up for was a discussion on the city’s previously approved ban on commercial recreational marijuana businesses in the city.
About 50 people attended for the opportunity to share their opinions on the ban and hear what others had to say.
The Perry City Council voted Nov. 8 — immediately after state voters approved a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use — to ban recreational marijuana shops in the city. Under the law, municipalities were required to opt out of allowing commercial sales or they automatically allow such businesses. The law governing medical marijuana requires municipalities to opt in or businesses are automatically prohibited.
Huguelet said at the time officials had an ordinance prepared for approval in case the voter initiative passed, and when it did win they went ahead with the ban.
Perry Mayor James Huguelet said previously he expected a large turnout for Thursday’s meeting and various opinions both in favor and opposing the ban.
However, those speaking Thursday were mostly in favor of the ban, and raised various concerns.
Greg Wentworth, of Perry, said he was in favor of the ban and while he raised concerns about marijuana businesses operating in Perry, he also worried the city could be missing an opportunity for economic growth.
“I’m a pro-business person,” Wentworth said. “I look at some of the empty buildings here. I look at it this way: If we don’t fill those buildings up, something is going to happen. Persons or entities are going to fill those buildings up. If they don’t get it here, they’re going to go somewhere else.”
Resident Mike Tobias said he supported the ban, and thinks allowing marijuana shops in Perry would send a bad message. He noted vehicle crashes in Colorado increased after the state approved recreational marijuana.
“We don’t feel the city of Perry should allow businesses that sell commercial marijuana,” Tobias said. “We don’t want to live in a community that sells and endorses the use of marijuana.”
Billy Roback said he respects the result of the vote on marijuana legalization, and wants the city to leave options open for the future once the state legislature finalizes its marijuana rules.
“The positive economic impact of Proposition 1 to our community through sales tax could and probably would be helpful,” Roback said. “I would suggest to everyone those revenue dollars would be much more attractive to our community than the tax increases that will be needed to meet our future financial needs. I would recommend revenues already legal be earmarked to upkeep our historical buildings and help kickstart our city parks project.”
Mark Honeycutt, of Perry, spoke of his experience using medical marijuana to treat several physical injuries he suffered from work. He noted he has had better results with marijuana than with opioid medications. He added many people who are addicted to opioids could instead use marijuana.
“I would say that with the size of Perry, one dispensary would be needed,” Honeycutt said. “There is money to be made. Perry would enjoy that money.”
No council members addressed the issue.