All businesses deserve law’s equal protection

    Should our elected representatives make policies, vote on proposed laws, and run our various government agencies based on their own personal beliefs, or use the rule of law and input from voters to govern? Most would choose the second option, but often that is not the case and it wasn’t recently in Cuba.

    Voters throughout Missouri, and in our area, overwhelmingly approved the legalization of medical marijuana in last year’s general election with 65.5 percent voting for it. In Crawford County, the measure passed 5,004 to 3,455.
    With this new industry moving forward, a medical marijuana grow operation is eying Cuba as a possible location, having already put a contract on a vacant manufacturing plant in the city’s industrial park with plans to employ 50 to 60 local people. The company’s initial investment will be about $4 million
    At a recent meeting of the Cuba City Council, the company (Green Farms, LLC) requested a letter from the city stating it has complied with all the city’s zoning laws (which it has) in order to proceed with its state application to open the planned facility. It was a straightforward request, but it was met with opposition by two aldermen, even though the city attorney advised the council there was no legal grounds to deny the letter.
    City Attorney Lance Thurman reminded the council that the passage of Amendment 2 changed the Missouri Constitution to allow for medical cannabis. “The city of Cuba doesn’t have the ability to prevent medical marijuana from coming to town,” Thurman stated. “If they meet the 1,000 feet (requirement), I don’t think there’s any way that the city council can keep it from coming here. I don’t think you have the ability to keep them out. You can welcome them or not, but if they ask for a letter that says they comply with the law, I don’t think you have a choice.”
    Thurman’s legal advice, however, didn’t stop aldermen Debbie Martin and Jeff Bouse from voting against issuing the letter, which was approved 3-2.
    For anyone who may have concerns about the proposal—as Martin and Bouse apparently do for personal reasons—keep a few things in mind. What is being planned here is an industrial, manufacturing facility that will not be distributing medical marijuana to the public. The 55,000 square foot building being purchased by the company is located on a dead-end street in the industrial park and has been sitting vacant for years. The company could become one of the largest purchasers of city electricity and water and is planning to provide 50 to 60 jobs for local residents.
    What is the negative here? Only, to some, that it involves marijuana.
    If any other business offered to purchase the same building, employ the same number of people, and purchase huge amounts of electricity and water from the city there would be no opposition from anyone on the council.
    Remember, we are talking about a perfectly legal business here. Our elected officials, at every level, should not oppose legal business operations at any level. As council member, you should not oppose issuing liquor licenses simply because you are opposed to drinking, and the case should be the same for our state’s new marijuana industry.
    When they take office, our elected officials take an oath to uphold the laws and constitution of our state, not to govern based on their personal beliefs. Like it or not, medical marijuana is now legal under the Missouri Constitution. Unless voters change that, it should be accepted as any other industry and receive the same protection under the law.

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